The New Year is here and with it, so is the most common resolution: To be more healthy. I know that this is one of my goals this year. That’s why the we are starting the new year off with a new blog series on health and fitness. We hope you enjoy!
You can do all the dieting in the world, and you may even lose weight, but you won't be a whole lot fitter unless you combine it with a sensible exercise regime. In fact, diet and exercise are the perfect health partnership. Each supports the other. And, as with diet, everyone's needs and capabilities differ, so you need to develop a personal fitness program tailored to yours.
A couple of years back, the US Department of Health issued its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, with a theme underlining the individual nature of exercise programs – Be Active Your Way.
It's key recommendations for adults include:
- Doing at least 10 minutes of physical activity at a time, mixing both aerobic activities (things that make you breath harder) with muscle strengthening (push-ups, sit-ups or weight-lifting, for example).
- Increasing the time and effort you put in as you get fitter and exercising this way, ideally spreading this across at least three days a week.
- Moderate exercise should total at least 2-1/2 hours a week, while vigorous workouts should be at least 1-1/4.
Moderate exercise would be some activity that pushes your breathing effort slightly; as the experts put it: You're able to talk but not sing. And examples might include yard work, line dancing, using a manual wheelchair, walking briskly, or even washing the car.
Vigorous exercise really gets your breathing going, so that you could only say a few words before gasping. You'd be doing this with more active dancing (like an aerobics class), cycling reasonably fast, jogging or uphill walking, doing martial arts or swimming fast.
However, if all this seems too much for you right now, feel free to start at a much easier level by doing things like standing instead of sitting to perform certain chores, playing a musical instrument (also good for strengthening your breathing if you choose a wind instrument), cooking (watch those calories though!) or other household or garage tasks.
The key to success is to do things you enjoy – walking, for instance is popular, easy for all age groups, and can be adjusted to suit age and individual abilities. Exercise classes can also be fun because they have the social element of working out together and sharing the effort. If you exercise either in groups or alone to the sound of music, find tunes you really enjoy and that motivate you to push just a little harder.
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