It's a common phrase... we would have all heard it at some point in our lives, but what does it actually mean? Well with regards to fitness and health, I'm talking about the quality of your workouts rather than the quantity and duration of them.
I've never been the type of person that spends hours on end exercising, lifting weights, or back to back exercise classes - no matter how much I enjoy staying active. Sometimes it is due to time constraints, but mostly because I believe in making my workouts effective and listening to what my body needs. My workouts on average are 30-45 minutes in duration, and I try to work out 4-5 times per week. There's occassions where I might only exercise once per week... and I know that it's ok. There's other times where I work hit my 30-minute exercise goal every single day of the week, and that's ok too. I guess what I'm trying to help you understand is that if you are a beginner to exercise, or a regular gym-goer, your workouts should be focused on YOU - not what anyone else around you is doing or saying. Their goals and fitness levels may be completely different to yours and so their exercise demands will be different.
Rest time within your workout schedule is also very important. Within each session, the rest time that you need between exercises is dependent on the type and frequency of exercise that you're doing, and your rest days during the week will depend on your fitness levels as well as many other contributing factors (sleep, food, energy levels, work schedule and sporting events/competitions to name a few). Professional or semi-pro athletes, for example, may train for a few hours per day on consecutive days on the lead up to a competition, but they also have suitable rest time scheduled to allow their muscles to recover, and sessions are carefully planned in order for them to avoid fatigue and injury.
My second point to this "Quality Over Quantity" concept within your health journey is that you can very easily risk injury by overtraining, especially as a beginner. Don't risk trying to complete lots of repetitions, or lift heavy loads if it compromises your technique. Some may argue that you have to work a little outside your comfort zone in order to progress... which is true to an extent, but I'm only talking a couple of seconds of extra work, or one or two repetitions - NOT lifting double what you're used to, or spending three hours in the gym every single day of the week.
I know some of my clients are keen to workout everyday to help them stay motivated rather than falling off track - I don't necessarily discourage this completely, but I instead suggest "Active Recovery" days. For anyone who hasn't heard of this it means that rather than completely resting for a day, you instead just take part in a really gentle activity. This might be a short cycle, or swim, a yoga session, some stretches or depending on your current fitness level, a gentle jog may also count as active recovery. The aim of these sessions isn't to push your limits, but instead to allow the muscles to stretch out, to mobilise the joints or perhaps just to clear your mind for a while.
Your exercise sessions that you take during your week do not always have to be purely fitness based. Especially at times such as the Covid-19 lockdown that we are working through, you may feel that exercising is a way to relieve some stress or anxiety. This is where the quality of your workouts really come into play compared to the quantity of your workouts. An outdoor walk each day may suffice, compared to your regular gym routine if that is what is needed on a view of good mental health, and equally if you've never really exercised before now, then what better time to start? For some it may be their version of active recovery during their planned home workouts, and for everyone its a chance for seeing some other sights (aside from screen time!), some fresh air, and vitamin D.
I'm not saying that everyone must abide to walking each and everyday, nor am I saying that you must workout every single day (whether or not we're in lockdown), but instead please consider the quality of the workouts that you're doing. More is not always better, and you shouldn't compare your health journey to anyone else's. We all move differently, have different priorities and want to achieve different goals, so next time you