Now let’s get back to starting an exercise program that you can stick with so that you look and feel better. The first true statement about starting such a program is that any thing you plan to do must fit your abilities and your special needs. Anyone who has been inactive for many months or years should not do too much too soon. If you have diabetes, you do have special needs depending on complications and the type of medications you take so please go and get a check up with your physician and talk over the ” rules and regulations” of exercise, carbohydrate intake, and blood testing.
Your doctor can suggest the type of exercise that will be of benefit to you and educate you on what to expect if you get into trouble. No doubt, you will be told to start slowly. I know that it takes a lot of strength to change behavior especially if you have been idle for some time, and sometimes people jump in with both feet overdoing and exacting the results which may mean that exercise has to be stopped because of injuries or physical involvement. Finally, when you plan your new program, make sure to get the “pay off” you desire by setting the goal of exercising at least 3 times a week for 30 to 40 minutes for each work out.
No one knows what you like to do but you, so let us give you some suggestions about how to keep this new exercise plan on target. First, chose things you like to do. I know golf is popular, but after years of following my dad around the club, it’s not for me. If I’m going to play a game at a club it will be tennis. It’s really that simple. Maybe for you it’s horseshoes, shuffle board or softball. Now that you have an idea of what you want to do to begin with, make a plan to make exercise a part of your everyday life. .
Exercise with a group of people. You have no idea how hard it is to disappoint your friends. Another perk of exercising with others is the cup of coffee afterward. Set realistic goals for yourself. There are no miracles when it comes to changing how you look; it takes work over time. Have alternative plans for inclement weather or for when it is too hot or cold. Weather is not an excuse to miss your toning up. Finally, keep a log of how you are doing. The results will keep you on track.
No matter what you decide to do, if you have not exercised for months or years, you will need to strengthen your muscles so that you will lessen your odds of injury and you will be able to move through time and space with ease. To build muscle strength you will need to think about resistance training. We have shared this information with you in recent ‘burning calories’ articles. Please reread them so that you are informed when you ask questions of the experts. Without strength building exercises, most people become flabby. Although body weight may remain the same, the percentage of fat increases. For resistance training it is important to seek the advice of those who know, because anyone can be hurt with weights and machines. Do share with the people who are showing you how to strengthen yourself any medical problems that you have.
Just recently, we had an article on stretching for flexibility. As we age, flexibility can be compromised if we do not work at it. Therefore, warm up and cool down; 5-15 minutes of stretching are very important. All of this will protect the body from muscle strain and protect against injury. Your coach will give you a variety of stretching exercises for different parts of the body including arms, shoulders, back, chest, stomach, buttocks, thighs, and calves.
Now you will decide on the aerobic conditioning such as walking, swimming, cycling and dancing. Low-impact aerobic activities spare the joints and muscles without the jarring and pounding of high-impact exercises such as jogging and jumping rope. The list of aerobic exercises is long. Decide on two or three so that you do not get bored, and so you will cross-train. Remember, aerobic exercise is the heart strengthener. The goal is to get your heart rate up to a certain rate.
To find your target heart or pulse rate, subtract your age from 220 and then multiply the result by 70%. Thus for a 60-year old, the target rate would be (220-60) x70% or 112. It will take you several months to reach this goal if you have not exercised for some time. With the aerobic part of your program comes endurance which means that you will be able to exercise for longer periods of time. At first you may be comfortable with 10 minutes, but hopefully you can work up to 30 minutes with time and effort.
To find a good program, check with a reputable gym or university or hospital-affiliated exercise program to find an instructor with a college degree in physical education, or one certified by the American College of Sports Medicine or the Association of Fitness Professionals. You can also find exercise classes in churches, synagogues, civic centers, colleges, parks and recreational associations. The YMCA and YWCA offer programs. If you work, there are lunch time sessions for the busy executive.
Here is a list of aerobic exercises:
- skiing, down hill and cross country
- soccer squash
- tennis (singles)
Many of you have asked how to start up a program. Below is a walking program as suggested by the American Heart Association. If you wish to take it as your program, remember to check with your health team before you begin. You may have to start more slowly or you may be able to start with more aerobic activity, so be aware that this is just a suggestion.
Always warm up and cool down. Incorporate stretching and strength training in your program.
- week 1. walk normally, 5 minutes; walk briskly 5 minutes; walk normally for 5 minutes.
- week 2. repeat week1.
- week 3. repeat week1.
Then for each week through week 12, warm up by walking for 5 minutes and add 2 to 3 minutes to your brisk walk. Then slow down and walk normally for 5 minutes. It will take you to week 12 to get up to 30 minutes of brisk walking. Remember to check your pulse so that you can make sure you are in your target area.
This past month we had many questions about calories burned and exercise. Here is a list of exercises and the number of calories they burn per hour. Ask your gym for a complete listing if your exercises are not listed.
|Sitting Quietly||80 calories per hour|
|Standing Still||95 calories per hour|
|Light Activity||240 calories per hour|
|Moderate Activity||370 calories per hour|
|Walking briskly (3.5 miles per hour)|
|Bicycling (5.5 miles per hour)|
|Strenuous Activity||580 calories per hour|
|Jogging (9 miles per hour)|
|Very Strenuous Activity||740 calories per hour|
|Running ( 7 min. per mile)|
Destination. Take a walk instead of snacking. Use the stairs instead of an elevator. Do housework quickly or mow your lawn. BUT, listen to your body. Pay attention to warning signs that your doctor will share with you, and check the weather report so that you can move your exercise inside. Now, go for it. Your exercise suit calls and flab must go.