Common reasons given for failure to exercise include: I don't have the time...I'm too tired...I don't know what type of exercise to do...I have a medical condition (usually a "bad heart," back pain or knee pain)...I'm too heavy... I become short of breath...I can't afford the gym...It's boring...I'm too old.
And there are more innovative excuses: my uncle lived to 106 and he never exercised (we should all be blessed with such good genes)...It's too cold outdoors in the winter...I'm always away... I do enough at work...
You get the idea.
Almost any form of physical activity is helpful, but a good exercise program should include at least 30 minutes of moderate, aerobic physical exercise most days of the week. Examples of aerobic exercise are brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming and aerobic dance. An effective exercise program should include:
- Warm-up, 3 to 5 minutes. A warm-up gradually increases your heart rate and the blood flow to the heart and muscles preparing them for exercise. To warm-up, do the activity you have chosen to do (for example walking or biking), but at a slower pace during the warm-up period.
- Aerobic activity, at least 30 minutes (build up gradually from 15 minutes over several weeks). With aerobic exercise you use more oxygen to burn calories for the extra energy you spend. Exercise within your target heart rate zone (target charts are available in gyms, on the net, and at your doctor's office).
- Cool-down 3 to 5 minutes. Cooling down allows your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure to return to normal, and allows you to stretch better.
- Stretching, 5 to 10 minutes. Stretching will improve your flexibility, decrease muscle soreness and help you relax. It's important to stretch those muscles you were using during exercise. Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds, but don't stretch to the point of pain.
- Strength training, which is a very important component of a good exercise program.
Start before it's time for New Year's resolutions
Are you interested in checking your degree of conditioning and your general exercise capacity? We have a unique testing facility where we measure your maximum oxygen capacity (known as vO2max) and tell you how fit you are. The test is done as part of a cardiopulmonary exercise evaluation, under medical supervision. We are the only free standing medical facility in our area performing this type of evaluation.