June 21, 2018
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7 Tips for starting an exercise program

By Kevin DiDonato, Special to the BDN

So, you’re feeling ready to commit to a fitness program for the fall and winter. What do you do it you have never set foot in a gym and do not have the slightest idea where to start?

Here are some tips to help you on your way to starting and maintaining a workout program.

Tip 1- Consult with your doctor or primary care provider before beginning any exercise program. Having a pre-exercise physical can give you valuable information about your cholesterol levels, weight and any health conditions that might be affected by exercise.  This also can help you target specific areas for improvement and make sure that you are able to participate fully in an exercise program.

Tip 2- Start slowly. Starting a program gradually will help accustom your body to the demands of exercise and adapt to changes that occur.  When you start off too hard, there is a higher risk of injury, which will create setbacks in your workout routine.  It has been proven that just ten minutes of activity, three times daily, can help increase cardiovascular health, boost energy expenditure and promote weight loss.

Tip 3- Stretch!  Stretching does two things for your body: warms up your muscles and prepares them for exercise, and improves flexibility in the joints. Incorporating a few minutes of stretching into your routine will help you limber up and enjoy everyday activities again.

Tip 4- Find a workout partner and vary your routine.  Face it, exercise can sometimes feel like a tedious business and there will be days you just do not want to do it.  By trying new activities, not only are you able to keep the exercise fun and exciting but you are giving the body a different workout and burning more calories. Finding a workout partner will help keep you motivated, generate new ideas and make the time go by faster.

Tip 5- Hire a personal trainer.  Not only will a  personal trainer help you design the right program to get the results that you are looking for, but trainers are great resources for general health and fitness information. Make sure the trainer is certified through a reputable organization.

Tip 6- Set up short-term and long-term term goals to help you track your progress. Write down some short term goals that you want to accomplish in two to three months, and some long term goals that are six months out and beyond. Each time you meet one of those goals, cross it off until everything on your list has been accomplished.

Tip 7- Incorporate strength training.  Your routine should not only include stretching and cardiovascular routines, but it also strength training. Resistance, or strength training, helps to build up your muscle tissue, making movements easier and helping to burn more calories at rest.  This is important to for controlling weight and  making everyday activities easier and more manageable.

These tips are designed to help you begin and maintain an exercise program. Stop your workout immediately and consult a physician for any symptoms such as chest pain, severe shortness of breath or dizziness.

You have made a great decision to start an exercise program for your health and wellbeing!

Kevin DiDonato is a personal trainer and health educator in Maine.

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