Fitness 101 for Beginners

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*Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning, and flexibility training create balance. These don’t all have to be done at once, but doing each on a regular basis will result in balanced fitness.

  • Cardiovascular activity. Start by doing an aerobic activity, like walking or running, for a sustained 20-30 minutes, four to five times a week. To ensure you’re working at an optimum level, try the “talk test”: Make sure you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded. But if you can easily sing a song, you’re not working hard enough.
  • Strength conditioning. Start by doing one set of exercises targeting each of the major muscle groups. Bryant suggests using a weight at which you can comfortably perform the exercise eight to 12 times in a set. When you think you can handle more, gradually increase either the weight, the number of repetitions, or number of sets. To maximize the benefits, do strength training at least twice a week. Never work the same body part two days in a row.
  • Flexibility training. The American College on Exercise recommends doing slow, sustained static stretches three to seven days per week. Each stretch should last 10-30 seconds.