Whether we want to increase our aerobic endurance, run a 5K or build muscle, most people want to see the results of their effort quickly. But how long does it really take to see results from exercise?
First of all, it depends on the type of exercise you are doing and how often you are doing it. Although any exercise is good, you must be doing it regularly to notice visible results. We look at how long it takes to observe changes in heart rate, blood pressure, aerobic fitness, muscle fitness, weight loss and mental health.
Heart rate – within a couple of weeks
Your heart is a muscle. So, just like other muscles, the more you make it work, the stronger it will get. As you get fitter, the heart will increase its stroke volume enabling it to pump more blood per heartbeat. You’ll probably also notice a decrease in your resting heart rate within a couple of weeks. The fitter you are, the faster your heart will recover following exercise.
Blood pressure – in a few weeks
If you have borderline or moderate levels of high blood pressure you are likely to observe a modest reduction within a few weeks of starting to exercise. Simply increasing your daily step count can result in small reductions. If your blood pressure is within the normal range, you’re unlikely to experience any changes.
Aerobic fitness – within a month or two
Aerobic fitness or VO2 Max is measured as the highest rate of oxygen consumption during maximum exercise. It’s used as a measure of how physically fit you are. If you practice endurance exercise, such as running, your body will eventually become more efficient at delivering more oxygen to your muscles. This will enable you to carry on the activity for longer without feeling as tired.
Muscle fitness – small changes within the first few weeks
If you are following a regular, progressive resistance program, you can expect to see small changes in your muscle fitness within a few weeks. Over time, you can expect to see a 25-100% improvement within 3-6 months. This very much depends on whether you are new to resistance training. Most of the early strength gains are due to an improvement in the neuromuscular connections when you are learning how to do the movements. As you get stronger, the increases in strength will be much smaller and more difficult to achieve.
Weight Loss – within weeks
While diet is the key to losing weight, exercise can help you to lose weight and keep it off. To see noticeable changes, it’s advocated that you aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.
Mental health – within minutes!
Regular exercise also has big benefits for our mental health, and they can be seen within minutes. Even short, low-intensity walking can improve our mood and give us a boost of dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good chemicals.
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