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May/June 2013
or that you won’t benefit from it.
Just be sure to seek input from
your doctor or an exercise therapist
about how to create a program that’s
appropriate for you.
What are your goals?
Keeping your fitness level in mind,
think about why you want to start a
fitness program. Perhaps your doctor
has suggested that you start a fitness
program to lose weight. If you’re
already active, perhaps you want
to rev up your fitness program to
prepare for a 5K race or get ready for
a favorite sport. Having clear goals
can help you stay motivated.
What activities do
you enjoy?
Next, think about the types of
physical activities you enjoy most.
After all, a fitness program doesn’t
need to be drudgery. You’re more
likely to keep up with a fitness
program you enjoy.
If you love riding your bicycle,
consider a cycling class. If you have a
blast on the dance floor, an aerobics
class that includes dance moves
would be a good bet. If you’re a
social person, a gym or health club
membership may be the ticket. If you
prefer to exercise alone or you find
health clubs intimidating, exercises
you can do at home may be best.
How can you add
variety to your
Aerobic activities should be the
biggest chunk of your workout, but
you also want to include muscle-
strengthening activities such as
working with weights or resistance
bands. Cross-training, which is
doing a variety of different exercises
or activities, is a good way to keep
exercise boredom at bay. Cross-
training also reduces the risk of
injuring or overusing one specific
muscle or joint.
When you plan your fitness
program, consider alternating
among activities that emphasize
different parts of your body -
walking, swimming and strength
training, for example.
What can you afford?
Make sure your fitness choices are
in line with your budget. If a gym
membership or home exercise
equipment is too pricey, consider
cheaper options for getting in shape.
You can base a fitness program
around brisk daily walks and
inexpensive hand-held weights or
resistance bands. Many recreation
departments offer discounted
fitness classes to local residents,
and many schools open their pools
to the public for inexpensive lap
swimming. You might also consider
buying used exercise equipment - or
sharing the cost with a friend.
Ready, set, go
You’ve thought through your likes
and dislikes and the pros and cons
of various types of fitness programs.
Now it’s time to get physical. Start
slowly and build up intensity
For most healthy adults, the
Department of Health and Human
Services recommends:
• Aerobic activity.
Get at least
150 minutes a week of moderate
aerobic activity or 75 minutes a
week of vigorous aerobic activity.
You also can do a combination of
moderate and vigorous activity.
The guidelines suggest that you
spread out this exercise during the
course of a week.
• Strength training.
Do strength
training exercises at least twice a
week. No specific amount of time
for each strength training session
is included in the guidelines.
Remember, each workout puts you
one step closer to reaching your
fitness goals. If you get bored or lose
interest in your fitness program,
don’t be afraid to try something
new. Reassess your fitness level and
set new fitness goals. The result? A
future of improved fitness and better
conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, it’s a
good idea to to consult your doctor before beginning
an exercise program.
It’s also good to keep in mind that as you age,
impaired balance, decreased elasticity of tendons
and other factors can limit your exercise capacity.
Injuries also are more frequent, and recovery takes
longer. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise