Exercising five days a week for 30 minutes per workout will help you meet the recommended exercise guidelines of organizations such as the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine. Beginners should start slower, working to build heart and lung stamina while strengthening muscles. Include cardio and resistance exercise for maximum benefit.
Your workouts should include both cardio and resistance exercises to help you improve your overall fitness. Cardio exercise raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated throughout your workout. Resistance exercise put stress against your muscles, such as using weights, resistance bands or your body's weight. Emphasize cardio during your workouts, adding light resistance each workout or performing more strenuous resistance exercises two or three days each week. Light resistance might include 5-pound dumbbells for women and 10-pound dumbbells for men, or performing pushups, pullups and chinups at a speed that doesn't cause you to fatigue to failure after a few reps. Strenuous resistance might be a high gear setting on an exercise bike that makes it hard to pedal, using heavier weights that cause you to fail within 90 seconds or performing calisthenics body-weight exercises very slowly.
If you exercise at a moderate intensity, similar to a power walk, aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week. If you can raise your intensity to a level similar to jogging, exercise at least 75 minutes per week. The more weight or resistance you use, the more muscle you'll build. During the first few weeks of your exercise plan, exercise at the maximum intensity you can continue for at least 15 minutes, if you plan to do two workouts each day. If you can only exercise once each day, find a pace that lets you exercise for 30 minutes without stopping. Avoid high-impact activities that make both of your feet leave the ground at once, such as running. Stick with walking or other activities that don't put too much impact and stress on your muscles, joints and bones as you're getting used to exercise.
Start each workout with a few minutes of warm-up to get your heart, lungs and muscles working together. Skip in place, pump your arms and do jumping jacks. Once you are warmed up, perform the exercise routine you have chosen, leaving five or more minutes for a cooldown and stretch. Toward the end of your workout, reduce your intensity to a slow walking pace to let your breathing and heart rate get back to normal. Stretch your muscles and hold each stretch for 20 seconds or more.
Vary your daily workouts using different exercise machines, equipment and calisthenics. An example might include using a treadmill on Monday, performing a calisthenics workout on Tuesday, doing aerobics with dumbbells on Wednesday, using the treadmill or another exercise machine on Thursday and repeating your calisthenics workout on Friday. Instead of using one exercise machine during a workout, consider exercising on three different machines for 10 minutes each. You can also start each workout with 10 minutes of strenuous resistance exercise, followed by 20 minutes of low-impact cardio. Take a day to recover from strenuous resistance workouts, using a pattern of one day of low-impact cardio followed by a day of exercise that includes strenuous resistance.