Our bodies need regular activity, especially if they are carrying around extra weight.  Satisfying this need requires a definite plan, and a commitment.

Although any kind of physical movement will burn calories, the type of exercise that uses the most energy is aerobic exercise.  Regular aerobic exercise will improve your ability to use oxygen to produce energy  needed for activity. You’ll build a healthier body and get rid of excess body fat.

Do different types of aerobic activities.  Mix it up! Try walking one day, riding a bike the next. Make sure you choose an activity that can be done regularly, and is enjoyable for you. If music helps, blast the radio or wear a personal stereo.

The important thing to remember is not to skip too many days between workouts or you’ll lose the fitness benefits.  As a rule of thumb, space your workouts throughout the week and avoid consecutive days of hard exercise.

How hard is hard enough?

It is important to exercise at an intensity level that’s hard enough to cause your heart rate and breathing to increase.  How hard you should exercise depends to a certain degree on your age, and is determined by measuring your heart rate in beats per minute.

The heart rate you should maintain is called your target heart rate. Use a target heart rate guide to see what you should aim for.  Beginners should maintain the 60 percent level of that figure; if you’re more advanced, you can work up to the 80 percent level. This is just a guide, however. Talk to your physician about the right heart rate for you.

In addition to the aerobic exercise, round out your program with muscle strengthening and stretching exercises. The stronger your muscles, the longer you will be able to keep going during aerobic activity, and the less chance of injury.  And always remember that each workout should begin with a warmup  and end with a cool down.

What are some physical limitations to exercise?

  • morbid obesity
  • having the use of only one arm or leg
  • fibromyalgia
  • malnutrition
  • blindness
  • spinal cord injury
  • allergies
  • broken bones
  • heart disease

Can I exercise if I have a physical limitation?

If you have a physical limitation that you think might affect your fitness plans, talk with your health professional before you start any exercise. A health care professional can give you guidance on:

  • What kinds of exercises to avoid.
  • The risks and benefits of exercising with your physical abilities.
  • Signs to watch for while exercising that show something might be wrong.

Tips to get you started

  1. Get your doctor’s “OK” before starting an exercise program.
  2. Choose activities that you think you’ll enjoy.
  3. Set aside a regular exercise time — make time for this addition to your routine and don’t let anything get in your way.
  4. Be realistic — set short term goals. Don’t expect to lose 20 pounds in two weeks.
  5. Keep a record of your progress and tell your friends and family about your achievements.
  6. Vary your exercise program. There is no “best” exercise – just one that works best for you.

It won’t be easy, especially at the start. But as you begin to feel better and look better, you’ll see that the effort is more than worthwhile.

Tips to keep you going

  • Create a plan and write it down.
  • Keep a log to record your progress.
  • Upgrade your fitness program as you build strength.
  • Avoid injuries by pacing yourself and including a warmup and cool down in every workout.
  • Try new sports, equipment, classes, to stay motivated.
  • Reward yourself for a job well done!

Posted in: Exercise FAQ's