What you need to know
The human body is designed for movement. In fact, the body depends on movement. Consider the three main forms of exercise and the many functions that exercise serves.
Aerobic exercise: activity which elevates the heart rate above its resting normal rate. Such activities include walking, running, bicycling, swimming, rowing, dancing — anything that makes your heart beat faster. Benefits: Aerobic activity strengthens the heart, improves lung function, builds stronger bones, improves circulation and oxygenation to the tissues, moves the lymphatic fluid through the body, normalizes hormone function (male and female hormones, adrenal, thyroid, and pancreas) and elevates mood. It is the single most important type of activity for preventing heart disease and cancer.
Flexibility exercise: activity which takes the muscles, joints and spine through a range of movement. Such activity includes stretching, yoga, tai chi, ballet. Benefits: Flexibility exercises help keep the spine and joints limber, and improves balance and coordination.
Weight training: activity which develops (strengthens) and shapes muscles. This includes lifting weights. Benefits: Weight training helps to define and strengthen various muscle groups and build strength.
There is an “overlap” of benefits from the various types of activity. For example: vigorous weight training elevates the heart rate and has aerobic benefit. Yoga and other flexibility activities often have aerobic benefit as well. Many types of aerobic activity, such as walking, develop muscle strength and have some of the muscle-building benefits of weight training.
HOW TO BEGIN
If you are beginning an exercise program for the first time, are more than twenty pounds over your normal weight, over 35 years old, severely deconditioned (“couch potato syndrome”) or have a known health problem, it is best to begin by having a complete physical exam and getting clearance from your doctor. Having said this, I must also point out that if you avoid exercise because you are unwilling to get a physical exam, the dangers of not exercising are far greater than the dangers of unsupervised exercise for most people. The following guidelines for aerobic activity may be used by anyone who is capable of walking one mile.
Begin at whatever level/week you can comfortably do now and work up from there.
Exercises: walking (best), bicycling, swimming, treadmill, indoor aerobic exercise equipment (rowing machine, Cardiofit®, stairclimber, etc.), mini trampoline
It is better to stay at one level consistently than to go to a higher level irregularly.
BOTTOM LINE: Be Faithful!
Level or Week
Times per week
increase by 1/4 mile
or by five minutes
same as last week and increase # of times per week
OR increase by .25 mile or by five minutes