There are several guidelines we suggest you follow when embarking on an cardiovascular exercise program, to improve your fitness.
How often should I exercise?
Three times per week is the recommended minimum. The body becomes accustomed to exercise if it is done regularly and hence fewer sessions than this will mean you are effectively taking one step forward and one step backwards.
How long should I exercise for?
20-60 minutes is ideal. At the start of your exercise program, 5-10 minutes may suffice, but as you improve and the exercise feels easier, you can begin to extend the time gradually.
How hard should I go?
Exercise should be at a “comfortable” pace. Forget the “no pain, no gain” cliché that many of us were brought up with. If you feel any pain or discomfort, it is a warning that you may be going too hard. The best idea is to start slowly and gradually increase the pace of the activity as you become accustomed to the exercise. Be guided by how you feel. Use our RPE scale.
What should I do?
The range of activities you can do to improve your fitness is endless. There are the obvious choices such as walking, riding a bike and swimming. But even these activities can be “spruced up”. Instead of walking laps of the oval, why not walk a dog, walk with your children/grandchildren, sister/brother, neighbours, in fact, grab anyone close by and go for a walk. Vary your route; a change of scenery always adds a bit more excitement into your exercise. Think of an activity you enjoy doing and let your imagination run wild.
Following are some special tips to help get you started:
1. Clothing should be loose and comfortable and shoes should be supportive and shock absorbing.
2. Start exercising at a low intensity and progress slowly. Going `flat-out’ at the beginning is not only potentially harmful; it may also result in sore muscles and a dampened spirit. Set small goals at first and just get used to setting time for exercise. Your commitment to go exercise is often half the battle. Once you are out exercising you usually enjoy it.
3. Include a warm-up (5-10 min) at the start of your session and be sure to cool down and stretch at the end. This is an essential component of any exercise session and will help your body ease into the exercise and also will help prevent injuries and help improve flexibility.
4. Set realistic goals. What do you want to achieve from your exercise habit. Write them down. Set a long term goal (e.g. weight loss) as well as smaller short term goals to help maintain your motivation along the way. See Goal Setting
5. Your diet should be well-balanced so your body gets the nutrients it needs to exercise. A good night’s sleep and rest is also important.
6. Try to set a specific time each day to exercise. This will help make exercising a normal part of your daily routine.
7. Don’t let your age, weight, height, star sign etc. stop you from exercising – it is never too late to start.
One last word, the old adage is true…
“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”.
So at some time today, make an effort to begin exercising.
You’ll be surprised at how easy and enjoyable it can be!