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Creating an Exercise Program You Can Stick With

Mar 4, 2008
It's a new year, or maybe swimsuit season is quickly approaching, and you've decided to start exercising. Congratulations on taking the first steps to a new and improved body and mind.

"Exercise can literally cure diseases like some forms of heart disease," said Michael R. Bracko, EdD, FACSM, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine's Consumer Information Committee. "Exercise has been implicated in helping people prevent or recover from some forms of caner. Exercise helps people with arthritis. Exercise helps people prevent and reverse depression."

The challenge is to get - and keep - moving if you want to truly cash in on the benefits. The first step to initiating a new exercise program is to recognize that a good exercise program isn't totally dependent on a strict, time-consuming regimen at the local gym. While that can certainly reap benefits, the truth is that you can get rewards from many different types and levels of exercise.

Getting Started
The options are numerous when it comes to deciding what exercise to do. Walking, dancing, gardening, biking, and even doing household chores, can be effective choices. It's important to choose activities that you enjoy and therefore have an increased chance of becoming habit. When deciding on how much time you're going to commit to exercise on a daily basis, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking at least 5 days a week. However, if you do less than that, you will still see the benefits even at 5 to 10 minutes of moving around.

Prior to starting your exercise program, it's a good idea to consult a physician. Anyone with major health risks, males aged 45 and older, and women aged 55 and older should have medical clearance. No matter what the medical condition, most people can usually work out in some way.

Then set some exercise goals. For instance, do you want to lose a dress size? Run several miles without stopping? Work out at the gym five days a week? Make sure your goals are clear and realistic. Begin your workouts slowly. It's easy to start aggressively, only to give up when muscle fatigue and soreness sets in, or you end up with an injury. Some give up because their goal for instant results was unrealistic. You're more likely to give up your exercise program is it's too aggressive. Your goal is to develop new habits you can stick with for a lifetime.

Workouts for Beginners
Prior to beginning any exercise routine, it's important to warm your muscles with some light stretching. You'll also want to end your workout with stretching to prevent tight muscles and injury.

For overall fitness, exercise experts recommend cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning, and flexibility training for overall health. While these do not need to be done all at the same time, doing each on a regular basis will result in a balanced fitness regimen.

Start with an aerobic activity, such as walking or running, for a sustained period of time. To test you're working at optimum level, use the "talk test." If you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded, you're doing well. But if you can easily sing a song, you're not working hard enough. Beginners should approach aerobic activity carefully to avoid muscle fatigue and injury.

Flexibility training or stretching workouts enhance the range of motion of joints. Age and inactivity cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to shorten over time. Done carefully, stretching can also aide in pain relief caused by exercise. Try slow, sustained static stretches three to seven days a week. Each stretch should last 10-30 seconds.

Strength conditioning should target each of the major muscle groups. Use a weight in which you can comfortably perform the exercise eight to 12 times in a set. Gradually increase either the weight, number of repetitions, or number of sets as you can handle more. Do strength training at least twice a week and avoid working the same body part two days in a row.
About the Author
Geologix Inc. manufactures products using a proprietary formula featuring 34 natural minerals contained in the ancient sea water from the famous Michigan Basin -- a concentration of minerals higher than that found in any known body of water in the world. Mineral Essentials focuses on spa, skin care, and massage products to moisturize and provide anti-aging protection for great skin. Mineral Essentials, and Acheaway
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