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Exercise: The Right Program and the Right Preparation

Photo of woman's muscular arm

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

To achieve and maintain physical and cardiovascular fitness, health professionals advise following a balanced fitness program--a program that includes the following:

  • If you have an existing medical condition, or are just starting an exercise program, be sure to consult your health care provider prior to beginning the program to make sure the exercise program that you choose is designed with your health and wellness in mind.

  • If you are just starting with an exercise program, start slowly and 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.

  • In the beginning, follow a program that includes moderate, not vigorous, physical activity. Start off with 30 minutes a day, and add some variety in your fitness routine--not only in the fitness activity that you choose, but in the time and setting. This helps to eliminate boredom with any one activity or location.

  • Be sure to start off any workout or exercise session with proper warmup and stretching exercises. This will help to avoid postexercise soreness or injury.

  • Wear the proper attire when exercising, including shoes with the proper support for the activity. Also, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.

  • Just as warming-up and stretching is important as you begin each exercise session, so is a cool-down period at the end of your exercise activity. This should 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 to ensure aerobic health and muscle strengthening. Muscle strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, yoga, or Pilates. Such exercises should be performed twice a week and include the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and abdomen).

Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/28/2013
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