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How to Dose Exercise

Below are general recommendations for healthy individuals for dosing exercises. Be sure to think of the goal behind the exercise before determining resistance to be used or how many repetitions to perform. These recommendations are based off of ACSM guidelines. Patients should always seek additional advice from medical professionals prior to starting a new exercise program or significantly altering their current exercise regimen.


Frequency: at least 3-5 days per week

Intensity: moderate and/or vigorous for most adults

Time: 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise, 20-60 minutes of vigorous exercise; may be performed in 10-minute bouts as necessary

Type: continuous and rhythmic


Frequency: 2-3 days per week

Intensity: 60-70% one repetition maximum (see dosing below, it is not necessary to perform 1 rep maximum to determine the resistance)

Time: 8-12 repetitions for 2-4 sets before fatigue sets in and changes in form are noted

Type: target major muscle groups


Frequency: at least 2-3 days per week

Intensity: feeling of mild discomfort, stretching should never be painful

Time: 10-30 second holds repeated 2-4 times each

Type: target major muscle groups


Frequency: at least 2-3 days per week

Intensity: N/A

Time: at least 20-30 minutes per day (generally in PT I like to say the more repetitions you can perform the quicker you will see improvements as long as you are not provoking your symptoms)

Type: balance, agility, coordination

These are basic guidelines that can be used for most healthy adults. Your therapist may alter these guidelines based on what they see being most beneficial for your body and healing. If you have questions regarding the goal of a PT exercise and why it has been dosed the way it has been, just ask us!

Happy Healing!

Kaitlin Wensinger, PT, DPT


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