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Fitness Programs That Fit

Personal Trainers, Videos, Can Get You Going on Your Own Fitness Program
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WebMD Feature

Just do it, we hear. Do what?, we whine. Getting off your you-know-what is a tough hurdle. Even exercise experts admit fitness programs can be boring. Here's their advice for starting a fitness program -- and sticking with it.

 

Before you start, get real with yourself, says Gregory Florez, a personal trainer and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

muscleman doing situp

 

"Look yourself in the mirror. If you can't picture yourself getting on that treadmill or stationary bike or going to that fitness club three times a week, don't do it," he tells WebMD. "Don't buy machines you aren't going to use. Don't join a gym if you're not going to feel comfortable going."

 

Then, get some professional advice on fitness programs, he advises. "You must have a plan that takes into consideration not only your goals but also your barriers, both real and perceived. Even if you are on a limited budget, you should get some beginning advice from a certified personal trainer." The cost ranges from $35 to $100 per hourly session.

 

No way, you say? Then find a few good videos on fitness programs, Florez suggests. There are lots of them out there.

Action Plan

Aerobics, strength training, flexibility/balance training -- these are the components of any good fitness program, for people at any age and fitness level, explains Sal Fichera, MS, an exercise physiologist in New York City and also an ACE spokesman.

There's no getting around it: Walking and running keep your heart healthy and burn lots of calories. A few sessions each week remains the cornerstone for any fitness program.

 

Pedometers are great for charting a walking workout. Heart rate monitors will help you track your exercise intensity and help you improve your fitness program's efficiency. "I highly recommend them, especially if you're out of shape," Fichera tells WebMD. "You'll know when to ease up intensity, especially during hot weather. Like power outages more likely to happen in hot weather, so is heat stroke."

 

But strength training helps burn fat and build stronger bones, says Fichera. "Aerobics only keeps metabolic rate up during the aerobic activity. Afterward, your metabolic rate immediately starts to plummet. When there is more muscle density on the body, then metabolic rate stays elevated all the time."

 

Translation: If you have more muscle, your body will burn more calories when you're not exercising -- when you're just sitting at work, for example.

 

Calisthenics such as push-ups or sit-ups qualify as strength training -- although very difficult for some, he says.

 

Those stretchy "resistance tubes" are "very worthwhile," says Florez. "We use them in all our programs. When we first saw those 10 years ago, we thought it was a new gimmick. But those are now some of the most popular tools -- they're portable, and they take away any excuses. They're great for traveling, very portable."

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