It’s ‘New Year, New Me’ season, which means more Americans are hitting the gym that any other time of year.
In fact, a survey from the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) found that more than 12 percent of gymgoers join in January compared to an average of 8.3 percent throughout the rest of the year.
It’s well known that exercise should be a lifelong habit to maintain weight and ward off a host of chronic diseases.
But it’s also no secret than many buy a gym membership or start working out to look better in the mirror.
Exercise experts have revealed to DailyMail.com exactly how long it takes to start losing weight and looking more toned.
Aerobic exercises to lose weight, such as running, can take about two to four weeks to show results you can see in the mirror
Strength training, however, takes a bit longer. Experts estimate it takes about five to six weeks to see bigger muscles
John Gallucci Jr, a physical therapist and CEO of JAG Physical Therapy in New York, told us it’s important to remember the plethora of benefits that come from exercise that aren’t necessarily related to how you look on the outside.
This is especially true for aerobic activities, which include rhythmic and repetitive exercises like running, biking, and swimming.
During aerobic exercise, your muscles repeatedly expand and contract, which means they require more oxygen to keep up with the increased demand.
The body then diverts blood flow from other organs to those affected muscles.
‘When you look at aerobic activity, realize that the body benefits immediately,’ Mr Gallucci said.
‘It increases circulation, helps decrease inflammation throughout the body, helps overall joint movement, and helps the function of the lungs.’
However, you won’t drop pounds immediately or look thinner in the mirror immediately – though you may see results faster if you’re overweight.
For someone who is overweight or obese, ‘usually, you’ll see results in two weeks if you’re exercising for 30-40 minutes every day, as long as you maintain a balanced diet and appropriate hydration,’ Mr Gallucci said.
Those who are thinner may take closer to four weeks, however. And if you’re already at a healthy weight or underweight, aerobic exercise may just help you maintain your current physique.
‘It really depends on BMI and what you’re trying to accomplish with weight loss,’ Mr Gallucci said.
This is because the more you weigh, the more energy it takes for your body to function. This means that someone who is heavier will likely burn more calories than a thinner person doing the same level of exercise.
Men also may see faster weight loss results than women due to having naturally higher metabolisms as a result of having more muscle than fat compared to women.
‘That increased aerobic activity gets your heart rate up, which increases your metabolism,’ Mr Gallucci said.
‘And as you increase your metabolism, you burn food quicker, which means it doesn’t have an opportunity to stay in your system and form fat.’
However, weight loss will eventually slow down and plateau as you make progress.
When it comes to weight lifting, you’ll have to stick with it longer to notice your muscles getting bigger.
Mr Gallucci estimated that your muscles will start looking more toned in five to six weeks, based on a 30 minute session per day.
Providing you gradually increase the weights you’re lifting to ensure it always feels like a challenge: ‘You would see the musculature actually becoming more tense and tone based on the repetition of the activity, which would would help you overall in in appearance,’ he said.
‘Most people notice it first around their thighs and their calves.’
However, Mr Gallucci said that you’ll probably start feeling stronger right away. ‘Strength training increases your heart rate. It also, based on the muscles that uou’re working, has the opportunity for increased strength, increased muscle size, and increased circulation.’
‘That’s good for your entire body.’ Mr Gallucci also noted that muscle growth can decrease harmful inflammation in the body, improving joint health.
A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that adult men with good nutrition and proper hydration can epect to gain about 0.5 to two pounds of muscle per month with consistent strength training.
Though women don’t tend to bulk up as dramatically as men, experts estimate that women can gain roughly the same amount.
If you’re new to aerobic exercises like running or biking, Mr Gallucci recommends starting small.
‘Everybody should build up slowly,’ he said. ‘Aerobically, start off with 15 to 20 minutes a day, building to 30 to 40 minutes. Have a gradual growth over the first full week of exercise until you get to that 30-minute opportunity.’
‘Whichever activity you pick, my opinion is seven days a week of aerobic activity is great for you.’
However, take more caution when it comes to strength training. This is because in order for the fibers in your muscles to grow, they need to rest. Too much strain can hamper that growth and lead to injury.
‘You never want to be back to back with the same body part,’ Mr Gallucci said. ‘So if you’re doing something for biceps and triceps one day, you could do hamstrings or quads the next day.’
‘We can work our core every day. Core is the most important thing for stabilization and balance.’