I did something to my body today that I would not normally recommend to others. I exercised for two hours. I would not normally do such an extreme workout myself but I am preparing for a specific goal. In a mere four months I am registered for two half marathons and my first full marathon, all to take place within a five day period. I want my body prepared for the hard work that will be required to meet my goals.
The recommended amount of exercise per day is at least 30 minutes of physical activity, three to seven times a week getting your heart rate up to 75% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age is your max. heart rate.) The problem with this is once your body adjusts and gets to be more efficient, however long that may take, you will not be using the same amount of energy as before. So if you eat the same amount of the same type of food, you will gain weight.
Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese due to a very high calorie intake and more than 50% of us Americans do not get the recommended amount of physical activity. My suggestion is, as you get fit, you should either up the intensity, the duration, or the frequency of your exercise. Do not get frequency confused with duration. Duration is how long you exercise, for example 2 hours, and frequency is how often you exercise such as 6 days a week. Make sure to take a rest day to allow your body to recover and rebuild. Any time of the day is good to exercise, it is up to you, but I would recommend a time where you are not distracted and can focus. If you just got finished eating, allow yourself at least a half hour for digestion or you will cramp up while exercising.
The type of exercise you decide on will be determined by your ultimate goal. Because I will be doing a lot of running/walking to achieve my goal, I am getting my body used to being pushed for an extended amount of time. I am not fast and I usually run 3 minutes and use a 2 minute walk to recover. By alternating, I know my body will endure the 13.1 or 26.2 distance but it won’t necessarily be a pretty finish.
I enter these events knowing I am not going to cross the finish line first. Instead, I want the sense of achievement, knowing my body can endure the distance, and to prepare my body I need to periodically put in long hours in the fitness center. As you plan your journey to health, determine your immediate goals and then plan your exercise routine around the goal. Are you mainly working toward weight loss, or completing an event? Only you know that answer, but once you decide, there are many resources available to help you achieve your goal.