When developing an exercise program there are many aspects to think about – what are you trying to achieve? What type of exercise should I do? How much effort is required?
There is an acronym in the sports and fitness world called the
Frequency – how often per week?
Intensity – how hard effort is needed?
Type – which specific exercise type can i use?
Time – How long do we need to do it for.
These principles help guide the decisions to make exercise and physical activity.
For example –
If your goal is to lose weight you can:
F – daily
I – moderate to hard pace
T – walking
T – 60mins per session
Or want to increase your run speed:
F – 3-5x/wk
I – hard intervals
T – running
T – 20-30mins
With all of these principles in mind – whats the most important to focus on?
Frequency is the key ingredient
You can have the best activity chosen, work super hard doing it, spending an hour or more at a time – but if the frequency isn’t regular – change will not happen.
Frequency is important in 2 main aspects:
Supra-compensation – Your body adapts to an activity or health change by being exposed to a stimulus (such as the effort involved in an exercise) then acutely adapts to handle the task – called supra compensation (making you fitter than before). If you expose your body to the exercise stimulus on a regular basis – you keep on improving in a stepped fashion.
(image taken from “https://fellrnr.com/wiki/Supercompensation” – quite a good website for running info!)
If you only exercise once per week you will lose all of your gains.
The other and possibly most important aspect is that frequency helps to:
It has been researched that it takes approximately 66 days to create a habit.
So if you were only starting your health journey by walking once per week – it will be very hard for the habit to become established.
Frequency is therefore the first and most important step:
- Get an activity happening on a regular basis,
- Stick at it to establish the habit, then
- Then focus on progressing as the exercise becomes too easy.
Give it a go – challenge yourself to do something regularly (daily if you can) for 66 days – when physical activity becomes a habit like eating or brushing your teeth – there is no stopping you!