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Fitness First: Exercise Programmes

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Research shows that those who are physically activity are likely to live longer, healthier lives.

The benefits of physical activity include:

- Weight maintenance

- Reduced blood pressure

- Improved glucose regulation

- Stronger bone density

Also, a person who has hypertension, diabetes or a history of smoking can greatly benefit from including regular physical activity into their daily routine.

The First Step

If you are over 40 years of age, inactive or have health issues, consult a doctor before you begin an exercise programme.

A Complete Programme

There are three main components to a well-balanced programme of physical activity: aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility training.

Commitment to a regular physical activity programme is more important than the intensity of your workouts. Choose exercises you are likely to pursue and enjoy, such as:

- Walking

- Running

- Stair climbing

- Biking

- Rowing

- Swimming

Healthy aerobic training should be performed three to five days per week with a minimum of 20 minutes per day. Remember, if your schedule is tight, it is better to exercise for a shorter period of time than not at all.

Strength training is another option. Strength training should be done two to three times per week, and is performed with free weights or weight machines.

For the purposes of general training, two to three upper body and lower body exercises should be done. Abdominal exercises are an important part of strength training as well.

Flexibility training is important too, but is frequently neglected, resulting in increased tightness as you age and become less active. Stretching is most safely done with sustained gradual movements lasting a minimum of 15 seconds per stretch. At a minimum, strive to stretch every day.

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