How to start an exercise program
Exercise is an important factor in keeping your body healthy and in top shape. Exercise is like a lubricant for your joints and muscles. It keeps you flexible and resistant to injury. Regular exercise that gets your heart up to an optimal “beats per minute” target can also help lower your risk of heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. Exercise will also help you maintain your weight at the right range for your height. Maintaining your weight also reduces your risk of heart disease and other health problems.
On a psychological level, exercise can reduce depression as it helps your body produce endorphins which are the body’s own painkillers. Runners, for example, are very familiar with “runner’s high” where they enjoy a temporary euphoria from their running. If you have not been very active, and you want to start an exercise program, move gradually into your program so you don’t strain muscles or put too much stress on your heart early on. Start out by exercising two or three days a week for five to 10 minutes at a time.
Running, walking, swimming, biking, skiing and sports like singles tennis are examples of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise involves endurance training to build heart fitness. During aerobic exercise, your heart works harder to pump blood throughout the body and your lungs breathe deeply to bring in more oxygen. Weight bearing exercise, like weight lifting, builds muscle mass. These type of exercises have also been shown to build bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis, a condition causing bones to become porous and brittle.
Osteoporosis may affect women as they pass 50 years of age. Isometric exercises are somewhat like weight-bearing exercises except that instead of lifting a weight, you push against another object to create resistance. The ideal exercise program would be one in which your heart stays pumping at its optimal “beats per minute” target for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. Even if you can not do the ideal, any exercise is beneficial to you.
When starting an exercise program, many people can work themselves back into shape on their own. However, some people will need to consult a physician before getting started. The American College Of Physicians recommends that the following people should visit their doctor before starting an exercise program:
- Men over 40 years old and women over 50.
- People with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease, arthritis, or any another condition that may be affected by exercise.
- Heavy smokers.
- The overweight and physically inactive.
- Men and women who become breathless after climbing a flight of stairs.