It’s finally time. You’ve decided you need to begin getting more exercise than picking up after the kids affords. Or maybe you’ve been maintaining a fitness program but you are tired of the routine or are ready to kick it up a notch. So what can you do to pick the best exercise for you?
- Choose more than one type of exercise. Doing the same exercise every day can not only get dull but it can also increase your risk of injury by overusing certain muscle groups. A good weekly program should include aerobic exercise such as walking, running or biking for cardiovascular health and weight loss as well as strengthening and flexibility exercises such as weight lifting or yoga.
- Vary the intensity of your exercise. Rather than do the same routine at the same pace / intensity level try alternating hard and easy sessions, which will help your muscles recover.
- Choose exercise options that are easily available to you. Exercises that require minimal equipment, that can be done at any time of day, that you can do by yourself and that don’t require expensive gym memberships, can help you maintain a routine because you can do them spontaneously. In addition, you may have an easier time sticking with them if your schedule is interrupted, say by having a sick child at home.
- Take a class. You might find that taking a class can help keep you motivated and on schedule. Yoga, pilates, spinning or Zumba are all good options. You may even discover a competitive side in trying to outdo your classmates.
- Pick exercises that don’t depend on good weather. If you live in, say, Chicago and decide to choose bicycling as your aerobic option, you’ll need to consider the feasibility of setting up a stationary bike in a spare room in your house or joining a gym. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending a fair number of wintry days sitting on the couch in frustration.
- Set aside exercise time each day. Set up a dedicated time to exercise every day and stick to it as best you can in order to turn it into habit much like taking a shower or going grocery shopping on Sundays.
- Pick an exercise that accommodates any health problems you may have. If you have problems with elbow and shoulder joints, for example, you will probably want to rule out tennis. If you have asthma you might want to consider swimming, where you’ll be breathing warm, moist air rather than the cold, dry air that can set off an attack. At any rate, experts recommend that you check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
Whichever exercise you choose to do, be sure to start off slowly and build up gradually. In general, you should only increase your exercise intensity, duration or frequency by around 10% a week. And you shouldn’t try to increase all three items at once. For example, in walking you might want to start by increasing the time to reach at least 20 minutes per day before increasing the pace or the intensity by, saying, adding in hills. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll feel fitter, stronger and more able to handle the curve balls life throws you in only a few months.
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