If you’ve ever finished a workout and wondered if it actually did you any good, you’re not alone. It’s a common perception that good workouts must leave you shaking and sweaty, according to a new survey published in the journal BMC Public Health. Many women reported that physical activity only “counts” if it’s high intensity, performed for a certain length of time, and done at a gym. But it turns out that’s not entirely true when it comes to what actually makes a good workout.
Most people still believe older exercise recommendations and haven’t internalized the updated ones permitting less-intense workouts
explains study author Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH, motivation scientist and director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center. And since many people might be deterred by intense workouts, this can keep them from exercising consistently or even starting a program in the first place, she adds.
So if it’s not the intensity of exercise, what actually makes a good workout, and how do you know if you got one? First and foremost, remember that anything is better than nothing at all, Segar says. Then, you can look at how it makes you feel both physically and mentally. Use the list below to get a better idea of how your last session rates. You don’t have to check off every single one of these boxes, but if you can relate to a few of them, then odds are you had a “good” workout.