Updated:19 Feb 2014
There are so many exercise programs one could engage in to increase fitness levels.Â How does one know which is right for them?
This question is important why?Â Increased fitness levels contribute to healthy heart, lungs, metabolism, lean body, body strength, reduced body fat,Â weight loss, sustainment of body weight andÂ better physical endurance and energy levels.Â Not to mention, excellentÂ pain alleviation benefitsÂ for weight bearing arthritic joints.
So what you really want to know is what exercise activityÂ will give you the best bang for the buck?
I highly recommended if you are getting back into an exercise fitness program or activity, youÂ conditionÂ your way back through aÂ 3-5 day/workout program.Â This may take you 2-6 weeks or longer to get back into good physical condition before you ramp up your efforts.Â Especially if you’ve just recovered from some type of physical adversity.
Five day exercise program – Consider making two of your exercise days on Saturday and Sunday to include family fun activities as substitutes for exercise activity.Â Work in the other 3 exercise activity days with exercise you enjoy andÂ can stick too.
This type of programming will provide more flexibility at first to develop healthy fitness activity around your busy schedule while reducingÂ stress.Â After the fitness habit is maintained for 2 week period, begin to incorporate more activity choice into the plan to keep it interesting. Â Iâ€™ve always found it important to take two days off in the week for needed rest [Typically Mon & Fri for me].Â I donâ€™t recommend a 6-7day workout routine unless you are training is too meet some particular fitness goal as are conditioned to do so.
Recommendations, Tips, How to safely increase fitness levels and activity,
You must develop a planÂ that lists your daily fitness objectives to meet yourÂ fitness goal.Â Is your goal to lose weight, increase fitness level, build muscle, better health, sustain weight, increase muscular endurance, higher level of competitive sport, improve task specific activity (ski, golf, walk, biking, running, etc.).Â So now you know before you spend money on an exclusive fitness membership, be sure to have a plan to achieve the fitness goal you have in mind.
Second, you must be realistic about your daily schedule. If youâ€™re a working adult with children, there are considerations that must be thoughtÂ out.Â Like working around busy work and family schedules.Â However, it is not impossible to squeeze in exercise activity even with a busy schedule.Â Itâ€™s a matter ofÂ priorities.
For example, if you want something bad enoughÂ like a new car, getting the furnace fixed, or watching a game, orÂ taking the spouse out to a movieÂ you manage to find the time and resources donâ€™t you?Â Yet you have a tough time making time for anyÂ type of exercise activity.Â Your fitness levels and healthÂ mustÂ be as valuable to you as any other tangible thing likeÂ a home or carÂ you insure.
Only through dailyÂ continuous dailyÂ movement activityÂ can one “insure”Â an additional layer of protection fromÂ lifeÂ stressesÂ on theÂ mind-body.Â Â Sustained exercise activity daily is also a provenÂ centurion attribute, or better known to others as a fountain of youth fitness principle.
If you have time before work or after the children are in bed a daily exercise program can become aÂ habitÂ you will become addicted too once the commitment is made.Â You simple must want increased fitnessÂ healthÂ as bad as you want to create a better lifestyle for your family.
For me, working outÂ provides great stress relief and fitness benefits.Â And for many years Iâ€™d get up at 5:30am go to the gym, or jog where the adrenalin and metabolism was at full throttleÂ just before hitting my full timeÂ job at 7:00am.Â This habit served me and my professional careers well and ensuredÂ I was always at the top of my game, I didnâ€™t need energy drinks to start my day.Â Now in my mid-50â€™s,Â my age appropriate exercise activities is walking 7 days a week and 2-3 days strength conditioning in the gym.Â Â Iâ€™m just as competitive at these exercise activitiesÂ as I was when I played football during by high school years.Â I attribute much of my career success, energy levels and clarity of thoughtÂ toÂ age appropriate continuous exerciseÂ habits.
Like anything else it takes dedication to be successful at anything you do.Â Itâ€™s more a matter of finding an activity that you really enjoy, get excited about and can become addicted to it.Â I tended to become addictive to newÂ exerciseÂ conditioning if I could get through the first 5 days.Â If I didnâ€™t make the 5 days, I’dÂ reduce intensity until ready for more intense training.Â I didnâ€™t quit the training; I took it down a notch until I could physically and mentally acceptÂ theÂ fitness conditioning plan.Â To push when your notÂ ready for itÂ is defeating and causes too many beginnersÂ to give up when they’ve not planned accordingly.
Third, your never too old to begin a daily fitness conditioning program.Â Â All too often I hear people give up on their fitnessÂ and activityÂ aspirations because they â€œself proclaimâ€ their too oldÂ to exercise.Â AndÂ then begin to look for unsafe – fountain of youthÂ short cutÂ gimmicks to lose weight, increase sexual performance,Â anabolic steroids for max muscle increases, etc.Â This line of reasoning is absolute nonsense; when did 40 become theÂ 80 plus crowd?Â Exercise activityÂ is aÂ metabolic optimizer that increasesÂ hormone production and immune system to keep us healthy and stimulate all things that keep our bodies, mind and spirit engaged in a satisfied lifestyle.Â “Without the need of dangerous manmade chemicals that temporarily mask the real reasons were not happy with our bodies energy levels, how we feelÂ and physical performance.
Forth, if you are infrequent about your exercise, or activity routine, it is very important you learn to pace yourself each time you exercise until your body is ready for a 3-5 day exercise activity routine. Ease into your workouts, forget about competing with whatÂ others are doing.Â Set your mind to see yourself as the healthiest 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 year old possible in your neck of the woods.Â If you think exercise-activity appropriate per decade, youâ€™ll stick with a healthy exercise program for your age while physically appearing and feeling 20-30 years younger.Â Why donâ€™t I talk much aboutÂ 80+ years old and fitness training programs?Â Actually, 80 years and above should walk-swim, push light weights, participate in flexibility exercise, eat balanced nutritious foods, socialize and travel as much as possible for quality lifestyle experiences.Â At this age, I thoroughly believe, each day is a blessing and one should enjoy life to the fullest while reducing life stresses.Â And these life stresses and health are adequately sustained through social activity and low-stress walking, swimming and dance exercise.
Fifth,Â if you over consume too many calories per day, especially after 7:30 pm, or binge overÂ the weekends it will be harder to lose weight.Â Body metabolism slows down tremendously during evening hoursÂ andÂ excess calories will be storedÂ as fat for every hour you take in calories after 8pm.
Weekends will be your worst enemy with regard to calorie consumption if you don’t have an activities plan to offset food intake with caloric expenditure.Â This is why in the next paragraph I recommendÂ plan fun movementÂ activitiesÂ on the weekends.Â Â Â This will help increase metabolism and will help burn off extra calories that may be put back on over the weekend.Â Then over the weekdays if your mindfulÂ to balance calorie intake and expenditureÂ relative to days of the week, you can actually continue to lose weight.
Sixth, find a workout routine you can stick with and enjoy. Various examples:Â Try biking, stationary treadmill, stationary rowing, dance, ball room dancing with spouse, tennis, walking, golf, jogging aerobics sessions, swimming, etc., 3 days a week (mix it up with gym activity).Â Make sure you get in 2 days a week exerciseÂ activity and 3 days aerobics (walking, biking, treadmill, elliptical walker, swim, hike etc.) minimally. Â Â On the weekends substitute an aerobics week day activity with a planned family outdoor activity, backpack, dance,Â walk and shop for your meals, camping, beach walking, fishing, etc.
I recommend 5 days a week exercise activities to sustain fitness levels and good health.Â I use combinations of all these activities listed aboveÂ to sustain my age appropriate fitness levels and overall health.
Changing up fitness activities will help with motivation andÂ will power to stick withÂ exercise activities daily.Â Mixing up activities alsoÂ becomes very addicting whenÂ youÂ break the initial 2 weekÂ conditioningÂ barrier.Â Â It takes about this long for brain chemical stimulation andÂ muscle toning to optimallyÂ provide theÂ motivation and will power to sustainÂ this lifestyle change.Â Â Brain chemical release (adrenalin, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin) through exercise activities is as addicting as nicotine is to a smoker; and is chocolateÂ to a chocoholic.
Now that Iâ€™ve provided you â€œHow to Exercise and Increase Fitness Levels,â€ get out there and get it done!Â Try various combinations of exercise activity.Â At a minimum, if you can walkÂ you can improve your fitness levels and experience greater lifestyle experiences.
The cost toÂ to walk is nothing, other than your time, effort and commitment to sustain it.Â Through daily walkingÂ fitness levels will increase.Â This will also positively impact mood as well as how your body feels.Â Â Sustained walking activityÂ is good for youÂ heart, lungs, metabolism and overall fitness goals.
Take one step at a time, one block at a time, and one mile at a time.Â Do what you can daily if your exercise activity is walking.Â Put no time lines, intensity of pace, or distance limitationsÂ on yourself.Â The mind-body will tell you each day what itâ€™s capable of doing.Â If you have the ability to walk youâ€™re much further ahead in becoming more fit and healthy.Â The key is to move more daily, work to reach 10-15min/day exercise activity at a minimum before increasingÂ distances and intensity of pace.Â Be consistent at daily walking activity to sustainÂ greatestÂ fitness and health benefits.
Other tips:Â Consider â€œnot takingâ€ your car to the store for daily staples once you can walk half a mile total distances.Â Â Make a goal to walk and shop for your evening meals, or drive to and walk the mall.Â Get a small backpack â€œonce able to walk small distances;â€ carry healthy produce, products to the car, home etc.
Never carry more in weight than you can do so comfortably.Â Â For example, I personally never carry more than 5lbs in bags, one for each arm, greater than 1 mile.Â Thatâ€™s .5 mile one way.Â Â In other words when starting a shop & walk activity program, you donâ€™t haul extra weight until you lose weight, or alleviate weight bearing joint pain [if this is a problem for you].Â To do so when the mind-body is not readyÂ may risk secondary weight bearing injuries to body compromising overall increased fitness success.
The information presented within this article and on our website, is in no way intended as a substitute for medical consulting or treatment.Â Always consult a physician before starting any course ofÂ fitness programming, particularly if you are pregnant or currently under medical care.
Also Read:Â Relative Fitness Programming Sustains Active Lifestyles
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.
My current fitness routine: Walking daily. I’m now able to walk 8-10 miles on any given day and 14 miles once a week. Within this time I go to the gym and may substitute a walk for aerobics conditioning on recumbant bike, walker, etc. This may/may not include Pilates stretches. Once to twice a week I try to work upper body mixed in with the walks. Upper body usually includes the following: Chest, biceps, tricepts, rotor cuff (shoulders) and ab crunches. All weight bearing exercises are high reps (12-15) and 2-3 sets each. I modify every weight bearing exercise to remove direct pressure on my back. So all exercise with weights braces the back to a stationary position. My biggest challenge with all my exercises: Ensuring I minimize aggravation to my entire back including my neck. For me, exercise is pain managed. This means I experience pain with all activity and exercise. However, to not exercise creates more pain. I choose less pain, so I’ve learned to pain manage around my pain trigger points. To do any less is not an option for me.