Are you ready to get fit? Starting to exercise or increasing the amount of exercise you’re doing is a great step toward a healthy lifestyle. However, doing the same exercise every day won’t help you maintain your fitness in the long run. To get fit and stay fit, your body needs variety.
According to Brad McCleary, owner of Bodies Health and Fitness, different body parts need different workouts in order to keep fit. “By mixing it up, you work different muscles in different ways. This variety helps keep your metabolism burning calories and keeps your muscles strong and limber,” says McCleary.
To get fit, you need to include three types of exercise in weekly routine: cardiovascular, strength training and stretching.
Get your heart pumping: Cardiovascular exercises, those that work your heart and lungs, are key to losing weight, preventing heart disease and maintaining overall health. These exercises include: speed walking, running, swimming, hiking, biking, tennis, soccer, basketball and dancing, among others. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30-minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise five times a week to maintain overall health. If you are starting a new exercise, be sure to work up to that 30 minutes, says McCleary. “You are more likely to be successful if you start out doing 5 minutes or 10 minutes and add to that time, then if you start at 30 minutes. Let your body adjust to this new routine and then it will start to crave more.”
Pump some iron: Strength training is important in maintaining and gaining muscle mass. Increasing muscle offers you several advantages, says McCleary. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. By increasing muscle tissue, you increase the number of calories your body burns while at rest and while exercising. Also, muscle is more dense than fat. By adding strength training to your workout and increasing your muscle, you will lose inches and look and feel better. Lastly, strength training will make your muscles stronger so they can support your skeletal structure and bones. “Strong muscles help hold you upright and support your spine, neck and head, whether you’re walking or running a marathon,” says McCleary. Strength training exercises include those that incorporate free weights, resistance bands, weight and resistance machines and exercises that use your own body weight as resistance such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats.
Stay flexible: Strength training, exercising and aging can tighten up muscles and tendons. “When muscles, tendons and ligaments are tight, they are more susceptible to injury,” says McCleary. Doing 5-10 minutes of stretching after cardio and strength training workouts will increase your flexibility. Adding a workout that only focuses on stretching will provide you even more benefits. Stretching and flexibility workouts, such as yoga, teach you how to control breathing, focus and relax.
Before starting any new exercise program, be sure to have a physical and make sure there are no physical concerns or limitations. “A personal trainer can work with you to develop a program that will help you reach your fitness and health goals,” says McCleary.