If you're new to exercise, or have struggled with it in the past, talk with your doctor about your exercise plans. After that, start by incorporating more activity into your daily life. For instance:
- If you always take the elevator, try the stairs.
- If you try to park next to the door of wherever you're going, park further away and walk.
- If your habit is to eat at your desk, take a 10- to 20-minute walk first, then have your lunch (or take a walk after you eat).
- Instead of watching TV all day Saturday and Sunday, plan active weekends. Go to the park, take a walking tour, ride your bike, or row a boat.
If you prefer a more ambitious routine, you can join a gym or try working out at home. Try for 30 to 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity (such as swimming, biking, walking, dancing, or jogging) at least three to five times a week, at 60% to 90% of your maximum heart rate. Weight training can also help tone your muscles and elevate your resting metabolism rate (the rate that the body burns fuel for energy). Try at least one set (eight to 12 repetitions) each of eight to 10 different exercises, targeting each of the body's major muscle groups.
Whatever plan you decide on, it's a good idea to set weekly goals:
- Write down what activity you plan to do, on what day of the week, for how long, and at what time of day. Be as specific and realistic as possible. For instance, write down "Tuesday: Walk for 20 minutes at 7 p.m., to the park and back."
- At the end of each week, review your goals and set new ones for the upcoming week.
Research shows that setting goals will help you stick to your program. It will clarify what you're supposed to do and let you track your progress. If you hit a roadblock later on, you can refer to what has worked in the past, or use your accomplishments to re-energize yourself.