If you are struggling to begin an exercise program, but are unsure of just how much you should do, this article will make it much clearer for you.  Recently, new guidelines were established that set new standards for how much physical activity you should do for adults and children.  To learn more about the guidelines and how effective they are for your health, you need to know a few things.  Will they help you with weight loss?  Do you have to have a personal trainer to accomplish them?

Which type of physical activity is best for me?
The answer to this is easier than you think.  It’s quite simple…pick something you enjoy.  If you don’t enjoy doing a particular exercise, no matter what I say, you won’t do it.  I’m going to list some different ideas for you below, but take a moment and think about something that you might enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be running on the treadmill.  It could be dancing or playing baseball with the kids.  There is one simple rule to the choice that you make.  You have to be able to do it for at least 10 minutes straight.

Why would I choose to be physically active?
Your body was designed to move.  It’s an amazing creation and to not use it is a disservice to it.  It will keep you healthy, you will feel better, and you will be more physically fit.  You will also lose body fat and look better in your clothes.  You will also enjoy your life for much longer because you will have the strength and cardiovascular ability to do what you want to do.

How often should I exercise?
The more you spread out your activity throughout the week, the better off you will be.  Just like it is better to eat small meals all throughout the week, it is also better to spread out your workouts throughout the week.  You should spread out your activity to at least 3 days a week.

How do I progress my physical activity safely?
It’s always better to start slowly and work your way up.  Each week just add another few minutes to your routine until you reach the recommended guidelines.

What type of exercise should I do?
You should engage in a combination of moderate aerobic activity and/or intense aerobic activity and strength training.

What is moderate activity?
Moderate activity is something that intense enough that you can’t talk, but not so intense that you can’t sing.  Some examples are:

  • Ballroom and line dancing
  • Biking on level ground or with few hills
  • Canoeing
  • General gardening (raking, trimming shrubs)
  • Sports where you catch and throw (baseball, softball, volleyball)
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Using your manual wheelchair
  • Using hand cyclers—also called ergometers
  • Walking briskly
  • Water aerobics

What is intense physical activity?
Intense physical activity is when you can only say a few words at a time.  Some examples of that include:

  • Aerobic dance
  • Biking faster than 10 miles per hour
  • Fast dancing
  • Heavy gardening (digging, hoeing)
  • Hiking uphill
  • Jumping rope
  • Martial arts (such as karate)
  • Race walking, jogging, or running
  • Sports with a lot of running (basketball, hockey, soccer)
  • Swimming fast or swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)

What type of Strength Training Activity should I do?
Your strength training exercises should use the major muscle groups.  Examples of large muscle groups include:

  • Legs, such as Leg Extensions, Leg Curls
  • Hips, such as Squats and Lunges
  • Chest, such as Chest Press and Chest Flyes
  • Back, such as a Lat Pulldown or a Row
  • Shoulders, such as a Shoulder Press or a Side Lateral
  • Arms, such as Bicep Curls or Tricep Extensions
  • Abs, such as Crunches and Iso Abs

What else should I know?
Your physical abiliities will improve with time.  What may start off as moderate right now will eventually become easy.  You need to keep adjusting what you are doing to make sure an activity that was at one time “intense” doesn’t become “moderate”.  Also, there is no reason to overdo it.  Start slow and work your way up.  More doesn’t always mean better.  Also, the guidelines mentioned are very general.  If an activity is too advanced for you, scale back and work your way up to it.

Will this be enough to help me lose weight?
Yes and no.  I could keep someone within these guidelines and help them lose weight with the combination of a healthy eating program.  The problem most people will make is they will understimate the physical exertion of an activity.

If you want help trying to establish a routine that will stay within these guidelines and lose weight at the same time,  contact us.