Oftentimes the hardest part of keeping your body fit and strong is sticking to an exercise plan. To keep your body fit and strong, choose activities that fit your personality. Do you like to play on a team or go solo? Do you prefer going to the gym or walking in the park? Whatever you like to do, there’s an activity you can choose to help keep your body in good shape.
Evaluating Your Fitness and Your Goals
1. Know your current fitness level. Consider getting a physical exam before beginning any exercise program. This is especially true if you have medical problems, especially related to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or joints.
The older you are, the more important it is to see a physician before you begin moderate or strenuous exercise.
If you have quit smoking in the past six months, you should also consider a visit to the doctor before getting started.
Remember that you should not be ashamed of where you currently stand. It is all about where you are heading!
2. Choose your target fitness level. Figure out the level of fitness you are trying to achieve. Knowing your goals will help keep you motivated to exercise.
Health-related fitness requires that you maintain a minimum level of fitness for your age to reduce your risk of illnesses that can be caused by lack of exercise or poor nutrition.
Performance-related fitness concerns the activities you want to do. Some occupations, such as firefighter, require higher levels of fitness, as do some recreational activities, such as hiking.
3. Set your goals for your aerobic health. Aerobic exercise makes that body’s cardiovascular system — the heart and lungs — more efficient at using and distributing oxygen through the blood. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises Americans ages 18-64 to do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
Moderate intensity is defined as any activity that burns around five calories per minute
Engage in the activity for at least ten minutes at a time: shorter intervals will not have the same benefits.
4. Set your strength and endurance goals. Strength training is designed to increase your endurance (how long you can exercise) and to make your muscles bigger and stronger. Research has shown that strength training can increase bone strength, improve joint function, and reduce one’s potential for injury.
Strength training is also known as anaerobic exercise, because during this type of exercise, the body uses energy that does not require oxygen.
5. Set realistic goals. Setting unobtainable goals will only result in frustration and may cause you to give up when you're actually making great progress. Talk to a trainer or your doctor about what you want to achieve and they can help you set realistic goals and a reasonable time-frame.
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