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Starting A Fitness Program

Starting a Fitness Program: A Few Things to Think About

  • Consult a physician before starting: Women over the age of 40 and men over the age of 50; or individuals with any chronic health problems. This is also a great way to find your initial values for blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, body weight, and bone density so that improvement can be measured. (See PAR-Q/Health History Questionnaire for guidance).
  • Begin slowly and gradually accumulate 30 minutes of activity daily. This can be done at one time or divided into 2-3 bouts of exercise throughout the day.
  • Eventually add strength training twice a week to your routine.
  • Take the opportunity to increase daily activities and leisure activities by gardening, riding a bike, taking the stairs, and walking at lunch.
  • Find activities that are compatible for your age and fitness level and most importantly activities that you enjoy and find satisfying. Your adherence will increase by performing activities that are enjoyable and motivating. The best fitness program in the world is the one that you "stick" with!
Basic Fitness Tips
  • Wear clothing that is loose, comfortable, protective, and allows moisture and heat to escape.
  • Wear good quality athletic shoes; find a shoe that fits your need or sport. Wearing slippers or flip-flops on the treadmill or into a fitness facility is not safe.
  • Consider keeping a workout log to track progress.
  • Hydration: When exercising you will need more water, so drink water before, during and after exercise. If you sweat a lot you will need even more fluids.
  • When is the best time of the day to exercise? Answer: Whatever works best for you, try a few different times throughout the day and see when you feel best and are more likely to continue working out.
Cardiovascular Exercise

Benefits: Here are just a few of the many potential benefits possible from performing cardiovascular exercise:

  • Improves health, well-being, quality of life, and may improve immune system.
  • Reduces fatigue and helps meet challenges of daily activities.
  • Promotes positive changes in body composition (body fat percentage), improves self-confidence, appearance, and posture.
  • Promotes relaxation, sleep, and reduces stress.
  • May improve physiological factors including: reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, and an increase in bone density.

FITTE Principle is an acronym for program guidelines and suggestion when designing a cardiovascular routine:

Frequency: Exercise sessions per week: 3-5 times a week is recommended. But 1-2 times a week is better than nothing. Baby Steps!!

Intensity: How hard should you work? Heart rate helps determine the intensity of the exercise being performed. Most research shows that cardiovascular benefits take place between 60% and 85% of age-predicted max heart rate. See the formula provided to help determine the proper range for you.

Time: An individual beginning a program may only start with 10 minutes a day and gradually perform 2-3 sessions of 10 minutes a day. Depending on your fitness goals, 20-60 minutes of continuous cardiovascular exercise daily is a realistic goal to shoot for.

Type: Simply the mode of exercise you choose. This could be the treadmill, step mill, stair master, elliptical, stationary bike, or an aerobics class.

Enjoyment: Bottom line: Find something that is fun and you will enjoy. This may take a while, so be patient.

Progression to Improve Fitness Level
  • Increase the distance covered
  • Increase the amount of time exercised
  • Increase the intensity of the exercise
  • Increase the number of days per week
  • Increase slowly, approximately 10% a week. For example if you are performing 20 minutes of exercise per session, increase the next week by 2 minutes per session.
Basic Guidelines and Suggestions: Where Do You Fit In?

Everybody: All individuals should make an effort increase their activity level throughout the day. This can be done simply by parking farther out in the parking lot, either at work or the grocery store. Start taking the stairs a couple times a day (instead of the elevator), then progress to where you do not need the elevator.

Sedentary people: Start accumulating 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily. Again, this can be performed all at once or in 2-3 bouts throughout the day. This should be added along with the above physical activity suggestions.

Individuals wanting to achieve health goals: Start increasing the duration of exercise or intensity (increase the heart rate during the training sessions).

Individuals wanting to achieve fitness goals: Start performing 20-40 minutes of vigorous exercise 3-5 times a week. Vigorous can be defined as 70-80% of your age predicted max heart rate.

Advanced fitness goals: Increase to 30-60 minutes of vigorous exercise 3-4 days a week at 70-85%. Plus add 15-30 minutes a week 1-2 times a week greater than 85%.

Performance goals: If you are participating in any type of sport, for example basketball or softball, incorporating sport-specific exercises along with the above training may be important. These would include some of the motor skills like agility, speed, and power mentioned earlier.

Remember! - These are just guidelines - consult with your physician and fitness professional before starting or increasing intensity.

Age-Predicted Heart Rate Range

Here is an example for an individual that is 30 years old with a resting heart rate of 60.

220 - 30 (age) - 60 (Resting Heart Rate) = 130
130 x 60% = 78 + 60 (Resting Heart Rate) = 138
130 x 85% = 110 + 60 (Resting Heart Rate) = 170
For this individual their range would be 138 - 170.