Plan an Exercise Routine That's Right for You
Here's to a new year and a new you. If you are one of the millions of Americans who has decided to start working out this year, figuring out what types of activities are best for you can be a real challenge. Here are some things to consider.
What Are Your Goals?
Do you want to lose weight, strengthen your muscles or bones, become more flexible or do all of these things? Is keeping your heart healthy your priority? To help create a workout that makes sense for you, think about why you want to exercise.
For example, if cardiovascular fitness is what you're after, exercise that helps the heart and lungs is key. Try brisk walking, running, swimming or bicycling.
If you'd like to shed a few pounds, brisk walking helps with that, too. In fact, according to a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, brisk walking and other moderate physical activities can help women lose weight and keep it off just as well as more intense exercises, such as running. The key, it seems, is to work out at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Plus, some research suggests that moderate exercisers are more likely to continue working out in the long term than vigorous exercisers.
To build muscle, choose weight-bearing activities. These include stair climbing, basketball, running, walking, tennis, racquetball, jumping rope and weight lifting. An added bonus: If you choose to lift weights, you'll be strengthening your bones and your muscles.
Need flexibility? Try exercises that lengthen the muscles and encourage joints and muscles to work through their full range of motion, such as swimming, water aerobics or a stretching class.
If you're younger than 35 and in good health, it's probably safe to start exercising. Those older than 35 who've been inactive for several years should check with a doctor first. Also get a doctor's OK if you have heart disease, asthma, diabetes, arthritis or any other chronic health condition, no matter what your age.
Source: Krames Staywell, The Journal of the American Medical Association
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