How to Start an Exercise Routine that Works for You

Did you know that 3,500 calories equals one pound? To lose an average of one pound per week, a person would have to eliminate 500 calories each day. This can be done by eating 250 fewer calories and burning 250 calories with physical activity each day.

When it comes to exercise, there are quite a few questions that can come to mind, like: “How much is enough exercise, and can you exercise too much?” and “How many days a week should I exercise and how many sets and repetitions should I do?” Let’s try to navigate our way to some answers.

The Magic Formula

The American College for Sports Medicine (ASCM) recommends all healthy adults aged 18–65 years participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days a week, or, vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes, three days a week.

To complement these cardio exercises, do eight to 10 strength-training exercises with eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

The ACSM also says:

“Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.”

Variety is Key to Weight Loss

Sometimes when a person is trying, but isn’t losing weight, it can be contributed to a weight loss plateau.

Once an exercise or activity gets easy, you want to change it up a bit. For example, if you have been doing strength training with five-pound weights, you should increase the weight once it starts to become too easy. If you continue with the five-pound weights, your muscles won’t benefit from the exercise like they did when you first started.

Our bodies constantly need to be challenged to be the most efficient and burn more calories.

Keep Your Heart in Mind

Another guideline to keep in mind when exercising is your target heart rate. You want to make sure you exercise within the ranges of 50% – 85%. If you are just starting out, aim for 50% of your heart rate until you get comfortable with your workout, then increase it gradually over time.

Physical activity is a way to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy. Even light physical movement on a daily basis can contribute to a healthy body and mind.

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Photo credit: hobo_018

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