I recently wrote an article titled Is Your Exercise Routine Helping Or Hindering Your Health (click to read), where I outlined specific practices that will either improve or downgrade your health. What many of you are now wondering, is that despite healthy or unhealthy exercise guidelines, what exactly does a health promoting exercise routine actually look like? Given this question as our current platform, let’s detail exactly what a heathy exercise routine looks like for you. 


How do I know what type of exercise I should perform? 


This is the million dollar question. Not only that, I want to make clear that in order to continually support and optimize your specific health needs, keeping your approach to exercise dynamic is the key to ensuring ongoing success. What do I mean when I say dynamic? A dynamic approach to exercise simply means that as aspects of your life, health and fitness goals change, so to should your current exercise approach. So how do know I know what type of exercise I should perform? Depending on your current life and health situation, let me help detail the answer below:


1. Are you experiencing chronically high stress?

If you’re working long hours, balancing home and family, have ongoing demands and commitments, are constantly exhausted, and just can’t seem to keep up or slow down, then your exercise routine should consist of the following: 

  • No more than 2-3 days of exercise per week, 15-30 minutes at most. 
  • Low intensity exercise such as yoga, stretching, walking, short bike rides, low grade hiking, calisthenics, Tai Chi, Qi Gong.
  • Avoid high intense exercise such as heavy weight lifting, HIIT workouts, high intense cardio.  

Exercise is stress, and your body can’t separate positive from negative stress, so high intense exercise while you experience chronic stress will only compound and complicate your situation. Some people use exercise as an outlet, however please keep in mind that before you maintain a high intense exercise routine, you need to slow down and help your body regenerate and replenish its anti stress stores. 


2.  Do you have a lot of personal and self care down time with only mild to moderate life commitments?

If this sounds like you, then you are ready to up to your exercise intensity. Those who have a relatively moderate or high amount of personal down time, or those who are busy but manage commitments with relative ease may still tend to experience stress, however are in a position where anti stress stores are in tact or allows a higher level of intense exercise. Exercise, in this population, although restorative, is primarily designed to help push fitness goals forward and/or use exercise as a positive outlet for stress. Here’s what your exercise routine should look like: 

  • 3-5 days of exercise per week, 30-60 minutes on average.
  • Moderate to high intensity exercise, such as resistance training, HIIT workouts, interval training or cardiovascular exercise (running, biking, treadmill, skipping etc). 
  • Active rest days (time between ‘workouts’) including stretching, yoga, walking, hiking, or mild cardio exercise sessions. 


3. Are you in category 1 or 2 above, are currently dealing with an active disease, illness or health issue, or have little interest in active exercise routines? 

This final category are for those who have a personal preference for or against exercise, consider their current life status to fall into either category (1 or 2 above) and/or may be limited daily by an active illness or health concern. If this sounds like you, then here’s what your exercise routine should look like:

  • If you have an illness, your naturopathic or medical doctor can help you set guidelines for activity and exercise (based on fatigue, energy levels, medication status, treatment side effects and so on).
  • If you’re not interested in engaging in a regular exercise routine, you are likely more sedentary than not. If this is the case, it is imperative that you exercise for better health.
  • 2-3 days of exercise per week, 10-30 minutes on average. 
  • Geared toward movement and activity versus feeling like you have to engage in intense exercise programs. 
  • Ensure you interrupt sitting or being sedentary every 30 minutes of the day (read more here).
  • Movement such as mild stretching, a short walk or getting outside is a positive starting point for you. 


As you can see, specific exercise routines depend a lot on your current stress, life schedule and health situation. Specific options for exercise does offer wide flexibility, so options technically are endless. Depending where you start, don’t forget that as your life situation changes one way or the other, so to does your detailed approach to movement, activity and exercise.


Dr Jeremy Hayman, ND helps patients at Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc. feel better, live better, and achieve optimal wellness and health. Years of patient care coupled with dedication to personal life balance has helped Dr Jeremy employ the adage that “your approach to health should be simple”.