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Finding the right exercise program and the right preparation

To be fit, you don’t have to exercise intensely for a long time. Experts agree that physical activity does not necessarily have to be vigorous. They recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate, continuous physical activity daily, or on most days of the week.

To achieve and maintain physical, heart, and lung fitness, health professionals advise having a balanced fitness program:

  • If you have an existing medical condition, or are just starting an exercise program, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Make sure the program that you choose is designed with your health and wellness in mind.

  • If you are just starting with an exercise program, start slowly. Gradually build up to 30 minutes a day.

  • Choose an activity that you will enjoy. You are more likely to continue exercising if you are doing something that you like.

  • At first, follow a program that includes moderate, not vigorous, physical activity. Start with 30 minutes a day. Add some variety to your fitness routine—not only in the fitness activity that you choose, but also in the time and setting. This helps to limit boredom with any single activity or location.

  • Be sure to start any exercise session with a proper warm-up and stretching exercises. This will help to avoid post-exercise soreness or injury.

  • Wear the proper clothing and shoes when exercising. Make sure your shoes have enough support for the activity. Also, be sure to dress right for the weather.

  • Just as warming up and stretching are important as you start each exercise session, so is a cool-down period at the end of your exercise activity. Include at least several minutes of stretching or walking to allow your heart rate to come down slowly.

Experts now recommend participating in two types of physical activity each week. This can help to ensure aerobic health and muscle strengthening. Muscle strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and practicing yoga or Pilates. Do these exercises twice a week. They should include the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and abdomen).

Medical Reviewers:

  • Diane Horowitz MD
  • Marianne Fraser MSN RN
  • Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN