Every weight loss program you’ll come across will tell you that in order to lose weight you not only need to eat well but you also have to exercise. Although exercise alone would be responsible for only a small part of your weight loss success, unquestionably you should exercise as part of your overall health improvement and your new healthy lifestyle.
Before you start exercising you need to determine how fit you are for the physical activity you want to undertake. If you are a woman over 55 or a man over 45 and you have not been physically active make sure to consult with your doctor.
Once you obtained a “clearance” from your doctor and you are ready to go, set reasonable workout goals. Your goals should correspond to your physical condition. For example, if you would like to run a marathon, but you are not a runner yet, start slowly. Aim and train for 1K. When your endurance improves increase the distance.
The same applies to any other exercises. If your instructor (live or on a video) suggests 20 push-ups but you have not done any for a long time, start with 5 and as your strength increases add to the number.
Most people fail and give up on exercise because they do not make realistic goals. Less is more if it is done consistently. Many people make the mistake believing that an aggressive workout will produce results faster. Typically, a gung ho approach backfires and these people do not persist because they simply cannot sustain the schedule (or they get hurt) and quit very soon after starting a workout program.
Exercising and sticking to it is like anything else in life. Essentially, you need to develop a habit of exercising. Only then it becomes a pleasurable activity and chances are that you will stick with it for a lifetime. (It takes about 21 days to develop a habit.)
Before you start any kind of exercise you need to “warm up” and also do some light stretching. When you are warming up you are in fact preparing your body for the stress of exercise. Warm up increases the blood flow. This heats up your muscles and joints. Stretching is important because “cold” muscles and joints can easily be hurt when you begin to exercise.
At the end of your exercise workout you want to cool your body down. For example, if you were running, walk for several minutes until your breathing and heart rate slow down. Often stretching is part of a cool down.
There are 3 basic types of exercise for overall physical fitness
- Cardiovascular activity – also referred to as aerobic activity. It includes walking, running, dancing, swimming, bicycling and so on. Walking or running are the simplest cardiovascular activities to start with. Try to sustain the activity for 20-30 minutes, 4-5 times per week. Make sure you do not get too winded. To test if you are working at your optimum do the “talk” test. While running or walking you should be able to carry a conversation without being too winded.
- Strength conditioning – this is an activity that improves the strength and function of your muscles. Pushups, for example is strength conditioning and so is weight lifting. When you begin strength conditioning start slowly and do one set of exercises to target the major muscle groups of your body. Pick a weight that is comfortable for you to perform 8-12 exercises per set. As you get stronger gradually increase number of repetitions. For best results do strength training at least 2x per week. Expert trainers suggest that you should never work the same body parts two days in a row.
- Flexibility training and stretching – over time and with inactivity our muscles and ligaments shorten. This type of training improves the range of motion of joints. It is interesting to note that most people think of stretching only as a warm-up exercise. Actually, when cold muscles and joints are stretched they are prone to injury. So go easy on stretching when you are warming-up. Most experts recommend that your static stretches should be slow and sustained. You should do these stretches 3 to 7 days per week. Each of your stretches should last 10-30 seconds.”
In summary, make sure to consult your physician before you start exercising if you have not exercised for a while. Irrespective of your goals, approach any new exercise program cautiously. Whether you exercise for weight loss or overall well being, make sure the goals are clear, realistic, and concise and not overly strenuous.
By the way, if you do not have time to exercise outside of your home you can check here for plenty of at home activities that will help you lose weight and shape up.
Do you exercise regularly? What is your favorite exercise routine? Please let me know in the comments. If you have a moment please click the LIKE button on the side of the page.