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Starting an Exercise Program: Part 1 of 4
By Laurie Batchelder   View more articles by this author
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September 01

Getting the urge to start an exercise program? Don’t know how to start? The following information will not only help you develop a fitness program that will give you positive results, but also keep you motivated and excited about exercise.

First and foremost, one should always consult a physician before starting any exercise program. Knowing of restrictions or limitations, such as blood pressure, heart rate, or orthopedic conditions is very important to your workout. Exercise can be effective for helping most health problems, however, it is important to recognize these problems in order to properly design an exercise program.

Let’s address three important components of an exercise program:
 
Cardiovascular component (cardio) – exercises that increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes. Options include walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, stairmaster and eliptical as well as group classes such as spinning, step, kickboxing, and water aerobics.
 
Strength component – exercises which use resistance to strengthen all major muscle groups of the body. Options include core training, pilates, yoga, free weights, strength training machines, resistive bands and balls, body balls, and kettle bells.
 
Flexibility component – in my mind, this is the most important component that is often neglected. It is necessary to stretch all major muscle groups to ensure proper joint health. Static stretching is the most popular form, which can be done on your own or in a stretch class. Other options are yoga, pilates, and passive stretching done by a qualified individual such as a certified trainer or physical therapist.
 
Now that I have defined the important components of an exercise program, let’s discuss the contents and order. F.I.T. is an easy way to organize each component. F = frequency or how often, I = intensity or how hard, and T = time or how long.
 
Cardio:                  

  • F = 5 to 7 days per week
  • I = 60% to 85% of your target heart rate*
  • T = 30 to 60 minutes.

*(You can estimate your target HR range as follows: 220 – age x 60% to 220 - age x 85%)
 
Strength:               

  • F = 2 to 3 days per week
  • I = 8 to 20 repetitions using a weight that is challenging and can be performed with good form
  • T = 30 to 60 minutes.

Flexibility:              

  • F = everyday of the week
  • I = low & slow
  • T = hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.  

When deciding the order of each component, it is a matter of preference. Remember, it is very important to warm-up 3 to 5 minutes before starting any activity.   Whether your choice is cardio or strength, always end with flexibility. Stretching after each exercise is common. Always stretch a muscle when it is warm. Do not use stretching as a way to warm-up.
 
This information will allow you to start your exercise program. There is so much more to discuss, check for future articles to help continue your journey toward better health.

 

Starting an Exercise Program: Part 2.

 

Starting an Exercise Program: Part 3.

 

Starting an Exercise Program: Part 4.

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29 Jan 2016 08:13 PM
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