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Starting an exercise programme

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Wellness zone with Phyllis Ogo Ogah

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Hello friends, I hope and thank God it's Saturday! Its time to get cracking so we are getting down to the real deal. While getting your trainers and sweatshirts ready as well as loads of water, let's look at the most important factors to consider prior to starting an exercise programme.
Prior to the commencement of an exercise programme, get a clearance from your doctor to avoid complications.
Here are some guidelines from the American Heart Association to help you decide.
See your doctor if:
You are pregnant.
You are middle aged or older.
You have a heart condition and your physical activity should be medically supervised.
You are on medication for your heart and/or blood pressure.
You develop pains in your chest, left side of your neck, or your left shoulder or arm when you exercise.
Your chest has been hurting for about a month.
You suffer from fainting spells.
Mild activity leaves you breathless.
You have an orthopedic condition that could be aggravated by exercise.
You have insulin-dependent diabetes .
Your doctor, after examining you, may want you to take an electrocardiogram stress test
MODE - The prescribed exercise program should focus on one or more modes, or types of cardiovascular endurance activities. Traditionally, the activities prescribed most frequently are:
Walking, Jogging, Running, Hiking, Cycling, Rowing, and Swimming.
Because these activities do not appeal to everyone, alternative activities have been identified that should promote similar cardiovascular benefits. Aerobic dance, box or bench stepping, most racquet sports or any type of activity that is steady, nonstop and uses large muscles (arms and legs) have also been shown to improve aerobic capacity.
Aerobic exercise may be the center place of the exercise program but it is still only a piece of the total program. The exercise program should also include flexibility training (stretching) and resistance training (weight lifting).
FREQUENCY -The frequency of exercise participation, though certainly an important factor to consider, is probably less critical than either exercise duration or intensity. Research studies conducted on aerobic exercise frequency show that 3 to 5 days per week is an optimal frequency. This does not mean that 6 or 7 days per week won't give additional benefits, but simply for the health related benefits, the optimal gain is achieved with a time investment of 3 to 5 days per week of aerobic exercise. Exercise should initially be limited to 3 or 4 days per week and increased up to 5 or more days per week only if the aerobic activity is enjoyed and physically tolerated. All too often, a person starts out with great intentions, is highly motivated, and exercises every day for the first few weeks, only to stop from utter fatigue or injury. Obviously, additional days above the 3 to 4 day frequency are beneficial for weight loss, but this level should not be encouraged until the exercise habit is firmly estabished and the injury risk is reduced.
Resistance training (weight lifting) should be done two or three days per week and never two days in a row. Resistance training can be done on the same day as aerobic exercise or you can work with the weights on the days you are not doing aerobic activities.
Flexibility training (stretching) can be done every day if you like. Probably the best time to stretch is after exercise as part of the cool-down.
DURATION -Several studies have demonstrated improvement in cardiovascular conditioning with endurance exercise periods as brief as 5 to 10 minutes per day. More recent research has indicated that 20 to 30 minutes per day is an optimal amount. Exercise duration cannot be discussed appropriately without also discussing exercise intensity. Similar improvements in aerobic capacity are gained with a short-duration, high intensity program or a long-duration, low intensity program if the minimal threshold is exceeded for both duration and intensity. Similar benefits are also gained whether the daily endurance training session is conducted in multiple shorter bouts (e.g., three 10-minute bouts) or a single long one (e.g., a single 30 minute bout).
Resistance training should take no more than 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
Flexibility exercises can take as little as a few minutes or up to a half hour depending on your preference and time.
INTENSITY -The intensity of the exercise bout appears to be the most important factor. How hard must you push yourself to gain benefits? This depends on your current state of fitness. The more fit you are the harder you will have to push yourself to improve your fitness. When you are just beginning a fitness program don't worry about trying to push yourself hard. Over a period of time you can gradually increase the intensity of exercise.
There are several methods used to determine your aerobic exercise intensity.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that most healthy people exercise somewhere between 60% to 90% of their maximum heart rates. The problem with this method is determining your maximum heart rate. Another method to determine aerobic exercise intensity is what is called "The Rate of Perceived Exertion". To be working at the correct level of intensity of aerobic exercise you should feel that you are working hard enough to demand deep breathing, but not so hard that you have to gasp for air, while you should be able to carry to chat during aerobic exercise. You should also be able to maintain your pace of exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Flexibility exercises should be performed slowly and gently to avoid pulls or spasms.
Resistance training does require a rather intense momentary effort to build strength, but when you first begin to lift weights it is very important to start out easy. You have to give your body time to adapt to the stress of resistance training; if you push too hard you will be sorry the next day .

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