You know you should exercise. But if you’ve never done it before, how do you begin?
First off, a note of congratulations is in order. You’re taking your first step to a longer, healthier, happier life. That’s fantastic. Not only will moving more help you keep up with your friends and family, being physically active can help prevent:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- certain forms of cancer
- type 2 diabetes
And the benefits of exercise don’t stop at the physical. Ever hear of the runner’s high? Credit endorphins, hormones that are released by the body during exercise that make you feel good. But that doesn’t mean you have to actually run to feel the “high.” Anything that gets your heart moving will help give you that happy feeling.
Of course, before you start any exercise program, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. It’s particularly important if you have any health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. That doesn’t mean that exercise is dangerous. Quite the contrary. But your doctor may have certain tips that can make exercise safer for you when you first begin.
Other reasons you should check with your doctor include:
- Any new symptoms you haven’t already discussed.
- Dizziness or shortness of breath.
- Any feeling that your heart is skipping, racing, or fluttering.
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Recent hip or back surgery.
Exercise: The first step
Once you’ve got the go-ahead, take a little time to set some goals. They should be concrete and realistic: I’m going to walk around the block for 10 minutes, three times a week for the month of March. Good. I’m going to exercise more. Not so good. I’m going to get to the pool at least three times this week. Good. I’m going to swim for an hour every day this week. Not so good.
Many beginners start out too gung ho and give up too quickly because they’re exhausted or injured. Remember the turtle —slow and steady wins the race.
Choose an activity that gets your heart rate up that you like to do. That could be going for a walk around the block, a swim in a local pool, or a bike ride through the neighborhood. Better yet, do all of the above. Develop a list of several different activities you love, so exercise will always seems fresh, exciting, and new.
To improve your health, work up to at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic activity. That’s 30 minutes a day on five days of the week of activity that works your heart. To lose weight and keep it off, you may need more: Aim for 300 minutes per week (an hour a day for five days).
On at least two days per week, also try activities that strengthen your muscles. Examples include lifting weights, doing push ups, or even raking leaves or digging in the garden.
Some other tips to make exercise enjoyable and safe:
- Ask friends and family to join you. Working out with a partner makes things more fun, and you’re more likely to stick with it when someone’s depending on you to get out there.
- Always warm up and cool down. Easing into your workout beforehand and cooling down afterwards is crucial. Slowly raising your core temperature and getting extra blood and oxygen to the heart and muscles give your body a chance to adjust and help reduce the risk of injury. Cooling down afterwards helps to gradually reduce the temperature of all your muscles, reducing stiffness and soreness. Three to five minutes on the front end and the back end is good.
- Choose active things to do with your children and grandchildren. Go for a hike. Play jump rope, go to the park and swing on the swings or climb the jungle gym. Go for a bike ride, kayak on a local lake, or visit the zoo. The more you can work activity into your regular schedule the better!
- Drink before and after exercising. Your body needs water to regulate temperature, transport nutrients throughout the body, and lubricate joints. If you don’t drink enough you may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, or more serious symptoms.
To help your body absorb the water you’re drinking, consider taking Replace® SR Sustained Release Electrolytes. Each tablet uses our advanced delivery technology to release electrolytes slowly over a 4- to 6-hour period as your body needs them to help you absorb the water you drink to stay hydrated.* And it’s available in 3-tablet packets, for on-the-go convenience. Just pop one in your gym bag and you’re set!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.