Tips for Setting Your Fitness Goals

Work, friends, family. How does anyone find time to exercise? You know you should, but getting motivated can be a problem. However, it's important to find some way to incorporate activity into your busy lifestyle. Researchers have found that moderate daily exercise may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. If you are seeking general health improvement, just 30 minutes a day should do the trick. And, this thirty minutes can be broken down into 10 minute segments throughout the day.

Even exercising just three times per week (if you can't do it daily) can have benefits (mental and physical). The key is that the exercise is "moderate." Moderate exercise consists of any activity that causes an increase in breathing, forcing you to take deeper breaths. You should be able to carry on a light conversation, but should not be breathless. If you are looking to improve your fitness-training, try three to five continuous workouts per week at 60 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. Subtract your age from 220 to determine your estimated target-heart rate. If you are a beginner, multiply this number by 60-70 percent. Advanced exercisers can target a higher heart rate by multiplying this number by 70-90 percent.

If you are looking for strength training, you should work each major muscle two to three times per week. Perform at least one set with 8-12 repetitions. Before exercising, stretch each muscle group (those which will be used in the activity) for 8-12 seconds. This will help to increase flexibility. You should feel some slight discomfort (not pain) while stretching. To help get you started, decide on a goal, and make a workout plan designed to meet this goal. Once you decide upon a plan, remember to keep a log. This keeps you motivated and "on track."

Becoming and staying fit is a lifelong process, so don't become discouraged. Small steps, each day is the key. Also, keep these tips in mind:

  • Exercise with a friend
  • Mix your regular training with more traditional activities.
  • Keep fitness magazines, books, and articles on hand when you have free time.
  • Keep a tight fitting pair of jeans (or any other article of clothing) around. This encourages you to exercise. It also allows you to monitor changes in your weight or body.
  • Plan for bad weather. Have an alternative to your usual outdoor activity.
  • Work out at different times of the day, and then write down how you feel before and after each work out. Discover the best time of day to work out.
  • Combine housework with more strenuous activity. For example, shuffle, squat, jog or dance while cleaning up.
  • Make exercise a priority.

Source: adapted from WebMD and CNN

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