Fitness programmes abound, from yoga and Pilates to step aerobics and strength training — either at home or in a gym. So which type of fitness programme is best for you? Use these 6 simple steps to find out.
Step 1: Assess your fitness level
You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can help you set your fitness goals and measure your progress. To assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition, consider recording:
* Your pulse rate before and after a one-mile walk
* How long it takes to walk one mile
* How many push-ups you can do at a time
* How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
* Your waist circumference at the level of your navel
* Your body mass index
You may also want to consult a doctor before beginning an exercise programme, especially if you have been sedentary or you have any chronic medical conditions.
Step 2: Determine your fitness goals
Keeping your fitness level in mind, think about why you want to start a fitness programme. Perhaps your doctor has suggested that you start a fitness programme to lose weight. If you are already active, perhaps you want to rev up your fitness programme to prepare for a 5K race or get ready for a favorite sport. Having clear goals can help you stay motivated.
Step 3: Consider your likes and dislikes
Next think about the types of physical activities you enjoy most. After all, a fitness programme does not need to be drudgery. You are more likely to keep up with a fitness programme you enjoy.
If you love riding your bicycle, consider a spinning class. If you have a blast on the dance floor, an aerobics class that includes dance moves would be a good bet. If you are a social person and like to be active with others, a gym or health club membership may be the ticket. If you prefer to exercise alone or you find health clubs intimidating, exercises you can do at home may be best.
Step 4: Think variety
Varying your activities (cross-training) can keep exercise boredom at bay. Cross-training also reduces the risk of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint.
When you plan your fitness programme, consider alternating among activities that emphasise different parts of your body — walking, swimming and strength training, for example.
Step 5: Do the math
By now, you probably have a sense of which type of physical activities might be best for you. But you also need to make sure that your choices are in line with your budget.
If a gym membership or home exercise equipment is too pricey, consider cheaper options for getting in shape. You can base a fitness programme around brisk daily walks and inexpensive hand-held weights or resistance bands. You might consider buying used exercise equipment — or sharing the cost with a friend.
Step 6: Go for it!
You have thought through your likes and dislikes and the pros and cons of various types of fitness programs. Now it is time to get physical! Remember to start slowly and build up intensity gradually.
Each workout puts you one step closer to reaching your fitness goals. If you get bored or lose interest in your fitness programme, do not be afraid to try something new. Reassess your fitness level and set new fitness goals. The result? A future of improved fitness and better health.
Source: The Daily Star, Saturday, May 23, 2009