With swimsuit season fast approaching, many people are motivated to hit the gym. But before you start shaping up, here’s advice on coming up with a workout plan that will put you on the right path to better health.
As a Certified Personal Trainer, Carole Hebrew knows what makes a good workout. She says a productive program has three main components: aerobic, resistance training and stretching.
“I think it’s important no matter where you are to do the cardio first, should warm up and stretch and then go into a cardio workout, then do the weight training and then stretch after the weights,” said Carole.
Carole suggests dividing your time up to get in all three elements. “You can do a little more cardio then some weights.”
Weights were the last thing on 43-year-old Kathy Butz’s mind.
“I just like to swim,” Kathy said. “Machines scare me.”
Fitness trainers persuaded her to face her fears. “I just got on the bike first and tried the elliptical, which I really like. Started to see the weight drop and all of a sudden, I’m down 20 pounds.”
To reach her ultimate weight goal, Kathy needs a routine that includes more variety. A good rule of thumb for an hour-long workout includes, “Maybe 30 minutes of cardio, ten minutes of stretching and the rest devoted to weight training” Carole said.
For beginners, split your weight training into both upper and lower body, but don’t over do it.
“I would start anyone at three sets of ten repetitions, OK to fatigue, OK, I would not take them to absolute failure in the beginning,” Carole added.
For exercisers who don’t see results right away, Kathy has some advice. “Sometimes it takes awhile and you do get discouraged but just, just keep doing it.”
Carole says even if you only have 30 minutes to work out, make sure to fit in some cardio, stretching and weight training. Pumping some iron will help keep bones strong, especially for people in their 40's and beyond.
Exercise for Health
Health experts generally recommend about 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day for most days of the week. Despite the recommendations, 85 percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise. More than 25 percent get no exercise at all.
Lack of exercise and poor diet greatly increase the risk of obesity. In the U.S., more than 60 percent of adults are now considered obese. Obesity is an important risk factor for heart disease and is associated with an increased risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, regular exercise can help control weight, reduce blood pressure, improve glucose control, lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis and certain types of cancer.
Getting the Most of Your Workout
A good workout program has three main components: (1) cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic fitness), (2) muscle strength and endurance and (3) flexibility. Cardiorespiratory endurance improves the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body during extended periods of exertion. Muscle strength refers to the ability of the muscles to exert force for a brief period of time. Muscle endurance is the ability of the muscles to sustain continued or repeated force. Flexibility refers to the ability to move the joints through their full range of motion.
All workouts should begin with 5 to 10 minutes of some type of warm up. Exercises like walking, very slow jogging and arm circles get the blood flowing and prepare the body for more vigorous activity. Pay particular attention to the muscle groups that will be used in the main activity (like the legs for runners). Next, do some simple stretches. Stretches lengthen the muscles and keep them from getting tight (which may make them prone to injury). Weight training is more effective after cardiovascular exercise because body temperature is increased and the muscles are already primed for work. Stretching should be done again after weight training to prevent muscle tightness and soreness. Combine stretching with 5 to 10 minutes of slow (cool-down) exercises to bring down the heart rate and lower body temperature.
There are several other important considerations in starting a workout. Start out slow. Many beginning exercisers are enthusiastic and want to push themselves right away. Overdoing it can lead to soreness or injury. It’s better to start out with less moderate activities for short periods of time. Then, as you become more conditioned, slowly increase the intensity and length of the workout.
Find comfortable clothes and choose activities that you like. To keep boredom at bay, vary your exercise routines. Listen to upbeat music and find a supportive exercise partner with similar goals. Make time for exercise. If you find your schedule always seems to be too tight, block out a time for your own appointment. Then, honor your exercise time in the same manner as you would a meeting with a client. Finally, if you are over 40, haven’t exercised in a long time or have any medical concerns, check with your health care provider for any specific precautions you must take before starting a new workout routine.