Physical activity and exercise are important components of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can help people of all ages, genders and health backgrounds reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and improve strength, coordination and overall wellbeing. Here are some key benefits of regular exercise and suggestions on how to get started.
Benefits of Exercise
- Weight Control: Regular exercise helps with weight control, as physical activity burns calories, which can help lower body weight. Physical activity can also help to improve body composition, or the ratio of fat to muscle in the body.
- Heart Health: Regular exercise can benefit heart health by helping to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Stress Management: Exercise can help to relieve stress and emotional tension. It is also calming and can help boost self-esteem.
- Improved Strength and Coordination: Exercise can improve balance, coordination and strength. It can also help reduce the risk of falls as we age.
- Boost Energy Levels: Regular exercise can help increase energy levels and improve sleep quality. It can also help reduce fatigue associated with chronic diseases.
How to Get Started with Exercise
Getting started with an exercise routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips:
- Set achievable goals. Starting with a goal that is too ambitious or difficult to reach can make it harder to get motivated.
- Start slowly. Beginning with low intensity and short duration is key to getting used to exercise and avoiding injury.
- Find a buddy. Finding a workout partner can help to make exercise more enjoyable and easier to stick to.
- Choose activities that you enjoy. Exercise is more likely to become a habit if it is something that you enjoy doing.
- Mix it up. Incorporating different types of exercise —strength, cardio, balance, high intensity — into your routine on different days of the week can help to keep your workout interesting.
- Reward yourself. Positive reinforcement is important for maintaining motivation for physical activity.
Exercise doesn’t always have to be arduous or structured. Taking a long walk, playing catch with a child or gardening in the yard are all examples of physical activity that can form part of a regular routine.
Regular exercise can help people of all lifestyles and ages to enjoy a longer, healthier life. Starting with achievable goals and gradually introducing physical activity will help to make exercise a regular habit.
What is the minimum amount of exercise that I need to get started?
The minimum amount of exercise that you need to get started depends on your current fitness level and goals. Generally speaking, 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended, with 60 minutes a day being the ideal amount. This can be anything from walking or jogging, to strength training and even playing a sport or some form of recreational activity. Consult with your physician to develop an exercise program tailored to your individual needs.
What type of exercises should I do to get started?
1. Bodyweight exercises – Push-ups, Squats, Lunges, Crunches, Plank, etc.
2. Cardio – Running, Jumping Rope, Biking, Swimming, etc.
3. Weight training – Lifting weights, using resistance bands, etc.
4. Flexibility exercises – Stretching, yoga, Pilates, etc.
The type of exercises you do should be tailored to your goals, so it’s a good idea to speak with a qualified fitness professional to help guide you in the right direction.
What type of equipment do I need to do exercises to get started?
A basic setup to get started with exercise would include an exercise mat, a set of dumbbells, an exercise band or tubing, an adjustable weight bench, a skip rope, and a medicine ball. Depending on your goals, additional items, such as a stability ball, kettlebells, a Bosu ball, and exercise slides may be necessary as well. It is also important to invest in good running shoes, as they are essential to any exercise routine. Many of these items can be purchased relatively inexpensively, or even borrowed from a local gym.
What exercises should I start with if I am new to working out?
1. Bodyweight Squats: Strengthen your core and lower body muscles by performing bodyweight squats. Start with simple no-weight squats, then progress to single-leg squats and eventually to weighted or jump squats.
2. Push-Ups: Build upper body strength with push-ups. Start by doing basic push-ups with your hands and knees on a mat, then move to modified push-ups with your hands on a chair and your feet on the floor.
3. Lunges: Complete stationary or walking lunge exercises to target your quads, hamstrings and glutes.
4. Plank: Strengthen your core with a plank. Start with a basic plank and add difficulty to the move by holding for longer periods of time or bringing the knee in towards the chest for a side plank.
5. Cardio: Include some cardio exercises in your program like jogging, walking, biking and swimming if you are just starting out. These types of exercises will help you build cardiovascular endurance as well as help you burn calories.