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Exercise: The Right Program and the Right Preparation

Photo of woman's muscular arm

You don’t have to exercise intensely for long periods of time to be physically fit. Experts agree that physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be vigorous. They recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate, uninterrupted physical activity daily, or on most days of the week.

To achieve and keep physical and cardiovascular fitness, health professionals advise following a balanced fitness program. This program should include the following:

  • Talk with your healthcare provider. If you have an existing health condition, or are just starting an exercise program, be sure to talk with your provider before beginning the program. This is to make sure the exercise program that you choose is designed with your health and wellness in mind.

  • Start slow. If you are just starting an exercise program, take it slowly. Gradually build up to 30 minutes a day.

  • Do what you love. Choose an activity that you will enjoy. You are more likely to continue exercising if you are doing something that you like.

  • Change it up. In the beginning, follow a program that includes medium, not vigorous, physical activity. Start off with 30 minutes a day. Add some variety to your fitness routine. Try different   types of activities. But also try to vary when and where you exercise. This will help keep you from getting bored with any 1 activity or location.

  • Warm up first. Be sure to start off any workout or exercise session with proper warmup and stretching exercises. This will help to avoid injury or soreness after exercising.

  • Dress right. Wear the right clothing for exercising. This includes shoes with proper support for the activity. Also, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.

  • Cool down after. Just as warming-up and stretching is important as you begin each exercise session, so is a cool-down period at the end of your exercise activity. This should include at least several minutes of stretching or walking to allow your heart rate to come down slowly.

Experts now recommend participating in 2 types of physical activity each week to achieve aerobic health and muscle strengthening. Muscle strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, yoga, or Pilates. Such exercises should be done twice a week. They should include the major muscle groups. These are legs, hips, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and stomach.

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