Setting Your Goals on Fitness
Your friends tell you. Web sites, magazines
and television remind you. Your doctor warns you. Your body screams at you. You
know perfectly well you should do it. But if you're like three-quarters of
Americans, you don't get the exercise you need.
It's not that you don't want to. That rowing
machine looked great in the store. The gym membership seemed like a bargain,
and so convenient to work. It's just that with all the pressures of work,
friends and family, it's hard to find the time -- and the willpower.
But what if you didn't have to go out of your
way? What if you could improve your health while commuting to work or pruning
your camellias? That's the hopeful news from health researchers. Many forms of
moderate daily activity can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease,
cancer, osteoporosis and many other chronic diseases.
Not just any activity will do, though, so
it's important to take some time and figure out how you can make exercise a
part of your normal routine. Once you start putting your new plan into action,
it will gradually become habit. That takes a month or two and requires some
dedication, so set goals that will keep you motivated throughout this crucial
Write your goals down and keep an activity
log to make sure your health-and-wellness program stays on track. Remember that
you should always consult with a doctor before starting any new fitness
program. The American College of Sports Medicine has established the following
guidelines for a safe and productive weekly program:
For general-health improvement, adults should
engage in a half hour of moderate physical activity most days of the week. The
30 minutes can be broken up into smaller segments throughout the
For fitness-training improvements, do three
to five continuous cardiovascular training workouts per week at an intensity of
60 percent to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your
estimated heart-rate maximum, simply subtract your age from 220. Beginning
exercisers should multiply this number by 60 percent to 70 percent. Advanced
exercisers should multiply this number by 70 percent to 90 percent.
Strength Training and Flexibility
Train each major muscle group two to three
times per week, a minimum of one set of eight to 12 repetitions.
Lightly stretch the muscle groups used during
your activity for eight to 12 seconds prior to exercise, and all major muscle
groups for 20 seconds or longer post-exercise. The best way to rate one's ideal
range is to take a stretch to the point of slight discomfort and hold the
position, while avoiding any sensation of pain.