Starting an Exercise Program
Now that you’ve decided it’s time to begin exercising, questions about the proper regimen are only natural. When should I exercise, or what time of day is best? What type of exercise should I do? How often should I exercise and for how long each time? As we explore and answer these questions, it’s important to know yourself and your preferences. Catering a program to your personality and routine will increase the chances of committing for the long haul.
Simply put, the best time to exercise is the time you are most likely to do it. If you aren’t a morning person, then a jog at dawn might not be the best choice. If your schedule is packed in the middle of the day, then a lunch hour session probably won’t happen. There has been some medical study of the time of day that your body works best; however differences are quite minimal. The important thing is that you do it.
Schedule time with yourself. Make an appointment to workout, write it in your calendar and don’t cancel. Be realistic and include the time it will take you to get ready (change clothes, get to the gym, etc.) and to prepare for the rest of your day (shower, travel, etc.). No excuses - there is always time to exercise. Even 10-15 minutes a day is beneficial, especially if you do it 2-3 times during the day. If you know you don’t have time to go to a gym for a 2-hour workout, do some selected exercises in your office or go for a brief walk.
There is no scientific answer to the best type of exercise with which to start. Pick something you will enjoy. If you hate going to a gym, engage in something you can do at home. If you are bored on the stationary bike, then get outside for some walking, hiking or outdoor biking. For those with an orthopedic or health issue that prohibits walking or exercising for prolonged periods, exercise in shorter sessions more frequently during the day. If you like being around other people, join an exercise class or a walking group. Incorporate variety into your routine. The bottom line is, if you don’t like the activity, you won’t stick with it.
Choosing the type of exercise is also dependent on your overall goal. If your goal is to improve strength and tone unused muscles, then resistive exercises are a good place to start. If your goal is cardiovascular health, sustained (aerobic) exercise like walking, biking, jogging or swimming might be the best fit.
Learn about resistive and aerobic exercises on the next page.
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