What do the experts say? - Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living - Public Health Agency of Canada
"There are 3 types of activities you need to do to keep your body healthy: endurance activities, flexibility activities, and strength activities. Do a variety from each group to get the most health benefits."
Although the info provided is still basic in nature, this is a lot better than what most are used to hearing or reading from Health Canada which amounts to "exercise most days of the week".
That's great, but what exercise, how much of each, and why? While this info, to the credit of Health Canada, has been published in one way or another by Health Canada, one usually has to dig for it through a plethora of really boring and totally vague literature and link after confusing link.
If you're new to exercise the links I've put hear are worth a read. If you're ready to add a little more intensity then consider that studies continue to show that once you have a good base smaller doses of intense exercise are very beneficial.
Take note that most go too hard too soon, eager to capture the reward from high intensity training. The outcome? Quick fitness gains initially followed by repetitive strain injury and fitness plateau.
The less fit you are the less exercise you need to get your body to respond so if this is you relax.. you don't need to bust a gut to improve, like many boot camp style fitness gurus would have you believe.
Start easy, don't make it hurt, and don't do so much it makes you tired. Yes, this will be enough to make your body get more fit.. it's also a safer and more enjoyable way to start, and no, you don't have to do it every day. I don't "workout" every day, though I do "move" every day (walking, cycling (commuting).
For those of you looking to maximize your exercise adding intensity is often better, but not always better than adding more time.
Only two times per week weight training is needed to make significant muscle mass and strength gains, and one could easily become recreationally competitive in any sport with only 3 to 6 hours per week of sport specific exercise sessions, and yes this include endurance athletes like those looking at marathon and half marathon.
Whatever you're doing though, make sure you have a mix of flexibility, strength, and endurance activities. We need this combination to properly maintain and improve balanced fitness.