By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM-CPT
Are you just getting started on your exercise program? How do you know what is going to be effective? How much exercise is enough? How much is too much? These are some of the questions that new exercisers often ask.
Frequency and Duration
When starting an exercise program, you really need to just that…get started. In the early weeks of a program, I usually advise people to start with two structured sessions of cardiovascular exercise each week in addition to increasing movement in their daily lives. This increases endurance and fitness while avoiding the muscle soreness and fatigue that comes from not allowing our bodies and minds to adjust to the new demands of physical training. As you plan your schedule, give some thought to how much and how often you should workout to be effective for you.
While ultimately, we want to reach 60-90 minutes of physical activity every day to achieve optimal health and weight loss benefits from exercise, those new to exercise need to view this as something to work up to. To achieve this try combining daily life activities, such as mowing the lawn and walking the dog, with formal fitness sessions to effectively increase calorie consumption and overall fitness.
Set your goal!
A realistic goal for most beginners is to try for three hours of activity per week from a combination of enjoyable recreational activities, such as playing with your kids on the weekend, active chores (think housecleaning and yard work), and formal exercise (say hello to your elliptical). Use your formal exercise sessions as opportunities to assess and improve your fitness by monitoring the time or intensity at which you are able to work and watching it increase for you in coming weeks.
Keep it up!
Once you've stuck to your initial workout for 3-4 weeks, consider increasing the demand by working out for a longer time or adding in an additional workout. You may also want to consider adding an active family activity to your weekends in order to increase physical activity for the whole family. The real key to getting started is to set a goal that is realistic for you and to assess and build on your goals approximately once a month. Keep that up, and you’ll be unstoppable!Putting it into Practice
Recent studies demonstrate that increasing your consumption of calcium rich foods may be an effective way to boost your weight loss, to slow post-menopausal weight gain, and to reduce risks associated with osteoporosis. For more information, check out this link http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20070514/calcium-vitamin-d-slows-weight-gain
I love using dairy products like fruit and yogurt smoothies for recovery immediately following my workout because they offer such a powerful combination of protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and calcium. Try throwing a half cup of your favorite frozen berries, one half cup of low fat milk, one half cup of low fat yogurt, and sweetener to taste into a blender after your workout. If it’s too thick, add a little milk or water to thin it to taste. It’s a fun treat in hot weather and one of the most effective recovery foods I know!