How Much Exercise to Lose Weight?

Weight Loss Exercise Recommendations Per Day and Per Week

minutes of exercise for weight loss

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When people exercise to lose weight, there are a few potential pitfalls they may encounter. Sometimes they do too much exercise and they end up overeating as a result. Or they don't work out enough and they don't see any results on the scale. So how much exercise to lose weight is really needed?

Researchers and medical experts provide weight loss exercise recommendations per day and per week, not only for losing weight but also to prevent weight regain. 

Weekly Exercise Guidelines for Weight Loss

A study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) examined different recommendations for the amount of exercise to lose weight. As a result of the research, the organization made several recommendations.

They advised that you get between 150 and 250 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week to lose weight. That's roughly 22 to 35 minutes of exercise per day to lose weight.

But they also state that more is better. They found that more than 250 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity is associated with more substantial weight loss. That means an average of about 35 minutes per day.

To achieve significant weight loss, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends over 250 minutes of exercise per week, or just over 35 minutes per day.

There are some ways to reduce required exercise time and still lose weight. If you choose to modestly (not drastically) reduce your calorie intake in addition to exercise, then about 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week is likely to improve your weight loss results.

Once you've reached your healthy goal weight, ACSM suggests that at least 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week is needed to prevent weight gain. Again, plan for 22 to 35 minutes of exercise per day to maintain your weight.

Daily Exercise Guide for Weight Loss

If you're curious about how much exercise it would take to burn 1 pound of body fat, you can use the activity calculator to help provide the answer. These answers can help you set exercise goals for weight loss.

As a general rule of thumb, you need to burn about 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight. You can choose your favorite activity and see how much exercise per day and per week you'll need to lose a pound of body fat.

These activities would help a 150-pound person burn roughly enough calories to lose a pound of body fat:

  • 5 hours of running per week (10 min/mile) or roughly 40 minutes per day
  • 14 hours of walking per week (3 miles/hour) or 2 hours per day
  • 5 hours of vigorous swimming per week or about 40 minutes per day
  • 6.5 hours of biking per week (12 miles/hour) or about an hour each day
  • 7 hours of intense aerobics classes or 7 one-hour classes per week

Trying to lose 1 pound of fat with exercise alone can be difficult and time-consuming for some people. For that reason, most people who are trying to reach a healthy weight combine diet and exercise to reach the right calorie deficit for weight loss.

Personalized Exercise Recommendations

Do the daily exercise guidelines sound like too much exercise to lose weight? Don't worry. There are many different ways to personalize the duration and intensity of your workouts so you can reach your goals.

For example, if you vary the daily exercise duration, you can exercise every other day or even every third day and still lose weight successfully. How you structure your workout schedule depends on your preferences and your lifestyle.

Shorter Daily Workouts

If you prefer shorter workouts, then daily exercise is probably best for you. If you work out for 20 to 35 minutes every day, you'll meet the expert recommendations for weight loss. Exercising every day will also help you to build a regular and healthy habit for physical activity.

But sometimes daily workouts aren't realistic. If your work week is hectic, you might choose to work out every other day. But if you exercise fewer days during the week, each workout needs to be longer.

Longer Regularly Scheduled Workouts

Sometimes daily workouts aren't realistic. For example, if your work week is hectic, you might choose to work out every other day. But if you exercise fewer days during the week, each workout needs to be longer.

For example, if you do one 60 to 75 minute workout on the weekend and four 35 to 40 minute during the week, you can skip a few days of exercise and still meet the guidelines for weight loss exercise.

If you have to skip several days during the week, you can still exercise to lose weight, but each session will have to be longer to meet your goal. It's also hard to build an exercise habit if you don't exercise regularly.

You can even do double workouts on certain days. For example you can complete one brisk walking workout in the morning and another at lunch or after dinner.

Shorter, Harder Workouts

You can also vary workout intensity to burn enough calories to lose weight. For example, if you are healthy enough for vigorous activity, some workouts can be shorter and harder to burn more calories in less time, while other workouts can be longer but easier.

If you're new to exercise, you can do beginner workouts that vary in duration. 

A Word From Verywell

If trying to reach your exercise goal sounds overwhelming, don't worry. Your workout plan doesn't have to be perfect to be effective. And setting up a workout plan is easier than it sounds.

These weight loss exercise recommendations can provide a framework for finding out how much exercise per day to lose weight. But remember that consistency matters most. if you can do less more often, that might be a smarter approach.

If you’re not sure where to begin, use a basic weekly workout plan to make sure that the time you spend working out is time that really helps you lose weight.

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