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How often should you work out?

The amount of time you work out every week can unlock a key to weight-loss success that is about more than just caloric burn.

Michael's magic number for her weight-loss clients: six days a week, ideally for 50 to 60 minutes at a time. But while hours of exercise a week will surely help you create a calorie deficit, that's not the only reason Michael wants his clients to find time for a workout almost every day. "We're setting up habits and rituals," Michael explains. "Think about the last time you had to psych yourself up to brush your teeth." In other words, when your workout becomes just another part of your day, you're more likely to do it without a second thought.

If the idea of almost-daily hour-long workouts sounds exhausting, Michael assures you that it won't feel like that. She recommends you break up your workouts three "hard" days of exercise, such as Tabata or interval training, along with two moderate days and one "passive," or light-exercise day. "You don't have to train like an Olympian all the time, but it's [about] building in those habits," Michael says. "I guarantee that someone who has the habit of training six days a week, even if they miss a couple, is going to be more consistent than someone who only trains three days a week." Just like how regular brushing maintains your bright, healthy smile, a habitual workout routine will produce real weight-loss results.

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