How to Exercise
Exercise is a key part of staying healthy, but figuring out how to get more active can be tough. If you’re not used to physical activity, start slow. Go for 10 to 15 minute walks, and work your way up to briskly walking or jogging for 30 minutes daily. Try adding strengthening exercises 2 or 3 days per week, and consider boosting your flexibility with yoga or Pilates classes. Whenever you work out, always listen to your body’s limits, and ask your doctor for advice if you have a history of any medical issues.
Tailor your routine to your experience level. Start slowly if you aren’t used to physical activity and want to develop an exercise routine. As you gain experience, try increasing your workouts’ intensity levels gradually.
- For example, start off by walking for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. After 1 to 2 weeks, work your way up to 30 minutes. Try to pick up your pace, too. You might start by walking 1⁄2 mile (0.80 km) in 15 minutes, then work your way up to 2 to 3 miles (3.2 to 4.8 km) in 30 minutes.
- When you do strengthening exercises, start with 2 sets of 8 repetitions (such as 8 push-ups). Then add 1 to 2 additional reps per week until you can do a set of 12 to 14.
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before working out. When you warm up, target the muscles you plan on exercising, but use less intense movements. For instance, walk for 5 to 10 minutes before jogging or doing a lower body workout.
- If you’re swimming, go slowly at first, then pick up your pace. Before an upper body workout, walk or jog and do light jumping jacks to raise your heart rate and increase blood flow.
Try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. As a rule of thumb, you should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise daily. Examples include going for brisk walks and jogs, running, cycling, and swimming.
- When you’re exercising at moderate intensity, your heart rate should increase and you should breathe harder. You should still be able to speak, but you should be winded enough that you can’t sing.
- Keep in mind you can break your workout times into chunks and spread them throughout the day. Being active for 5 or 10 minutes at a time is a good way to ease your way into exercise if you’re not used to it.
Include strength training at least 2 days per week. Also known as resistance training, strength training involves using free weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight to strengthen your muscles. If you’re just starting out, try doing upper and lower body workouts 1 day a week each. In time, gradually work your way up to including 3 to 4 strength training days in your weekly routine.
- A sample intermediate upper body workout could be 2 sets of 30-second planks and 2 sets of 12 reps each for crunches, push-ups, dumbbell biceps curls, and dumbbell shoulder presses.
- To strengthen your legs, do 2 sets of 12 reps each for squats, glute bridges, calf raises, and lunges.
- Generally, rest for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. If building muscle power is your goal and you’re doing high-intensity weight lifting, resting for 3 minutes can result in greater increases in strength.
- You can do strength training at home or use resistance machines at a local gym.
Mix up your routine to keep things interesting. Varying your activities can help keep you from getting bored, which can motivate you to stay on track. Additionally, switching up your workouts will engage your entire body and help prevent injury.
- For instance, you could jog on Monday, do upper body strength training Tuesday, swim laps on Wednesday, do a lower body workout Thursday, take a yoga class on Friday, ride your bike Saturday, and go for a light walk on Sunday.
- On strength training days, get your daily aerobic exercise by warming up and cooling down with brisk walks, doing jumping jacks, or jumping rope. Climbing stairs and going for a walk during your lunch break can help you squeeze in 5 or 10 more minutes of aerobic exercise throughout the day.
- Avoid targeting the same muscle group 2 days in a row. Don’t, for instance, do biceps curls and shoulder presses on back-to-back days. Muscles need time to recover, and overworking them can lead to injury.