By: Jody Machugh, CBN, FNP-BC, RNFA
When considering starting an exercise program, choose an activity that you may enjoy. The best activity is the one that you will actually do, not the one you think you should do!
- WARMING UP Every exercise should begin with a warm-up. Muscles that are warmed and stretched are less likely to become injured during exercise. A warm-up should last 5-10 minutes. Some examples of warm-up exercises include: marching in place, arm swings, or other light cardiovascular exercises.
- BEGINNNING CARDIOVASULAR EXERCISE Low impact exercises can improve your health and lower your risk of heart disease without harming weight-bearing joints. Walking is a great place to start since you do not need any fancy equipment, just a good pair of walking sneakers. Other popular low-impact exercises include: step aerobics, stretching, cross-country ski machines, rowing machines, cycling, swimming, aqua aerobics, pilates, and yoga. Start with 2-3 days a week of your chosen activity with a rest day in between workouts. You may only be able to exercise for a few minutes at a time when first beginning, but with consistency, that will gradually change. Each week, try increasing your workouts by a few minutes until you can work out continuously for 30 minutes a session. After 4-6 weeks, try adding another day of exercise, and/or increasing your pace/intensity, and increasing the amount of time you exercise.
Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week is the best way to improve your heart fitness. Exercising longer (up to 60 minutes), is more helpful in weight reduction.
- COOL DOWN Cool down is just as important as warm-up. To cool down, decrease the intensity of your exercise for 5-10 minutes. Stretching exercises should also be done to improve your flexibility and prevent muscle soreness and tightness.
Tips for Better Workouts:
- Start slowly. Doing too much too fast can lead to injury.
- Chose quality shoes
- Try new activities to prevent boredom
- Be sure you stay hydrated with plenty of fluids and feed your body adequate protein and nutrients throughout the day.
- If you are sore or tired, give yourself extra recovery days if needed.
When Injuries Occur:
- For minor pain/injury, REST and give your body a chance to recover.
- Keep ice on an injured area for 10-20 minutes and reapply every few hours for the first 48 hours. This will help in preventing swelling of the injured area.
- Compression with an ACE bandage can also be helpful in preventing swelling
- Elevate an injured limb
- Use heat to injured area after the first 48 hours (once swelling had decreased).
- Once you are pain free, you should resume exercising lightly and gradually increase your intensity and frequency.