Exercise: Where to Begin

The thought of establishing an exercise routine can be daunting, especially if you’ve never exercised regularly in the past. Before you start to panic about gym equipment and elaborate workouts, remember that physical fitness doesn’t need to be structured, it just needs to be consistent.@Glowimages GOGOAGA00781.

Make it Personal
Exercise routines should cater to specific needs. Keep your health in mind when you decide what kind of physical activity you want to try. If you have no current health conditions, feel free to challenge yourself. If you’re over 65 or you have pre-existing health conditions, you should talk to your doctor about what types of physical activity are safe for you. Then work around your interests. For example, nature lovers might prefer brisk walks outdoors while social types might want to take on a team sport or a group fitness class.

Think Small
Don’t focus on the grand total, but on the small chunks of time required to have a consistent workout routine. The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Adults should also engage in muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week. Instead of trying to fit long workouts into your schedule, consider breaking those amounts into manageable chunks.

Get Creative
Moderate aerobic activity makes you break a sweat, but it doesn’t mean you need to be in a leotard doing aerobics in a class. In fact, activities like riding a bike, mowing your lawn or even walking briskly will do the trick. Try a long walk with your dog or playing some games outside with your kids to get moving. Remember to do things that you find enjoyable. The American Heart Association recommends starting a fitness lifestyle with walking and recreation.

Be Safe
When you begin exercising, be sure to warm up and cool down appropriately. Stretching is a great way to keep limber and safe when you’re working out. The National Institute on Aging recommends 12 flexibility exercises to help improve endurance and strength. If you enjoy stretching, consider taking a yoga class or watching yoga videos online to practice relaxing, strengthening moves.

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