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Health and Fitness News

The Exercise Starter Kit

Just starting out? Do things the right way with these tips.

You've realized it's time to do something about your health. You're not only overweight, but you've also got high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure. Years after your decline into bad health started, you're not going to mess around any longer. So it's time to get in shape and improve your health. Perhaps years have gone by without stepping foot in a gym and you're not sure where to start. But that’s no reason to fear!

In order to avoid unnecessary injury or burnout, you want to begin a new workout routine the right way. What exercises should you do, how often should you do them, and how can you stay safe? Keep reading to find out.

A Balanced Routine

There are three main types of exercise and all are an important part of a balanced workout routine. Work with your trainer to develop an exercise plan that includes all three.

Cardiovascular exercise gets your heart rate and breathing elevated. It's an effective way to burn calories and improve the health of your heart and circulatory system. Great cardio exercises for beginners include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming.

Strength training exercises are meant to build muscle and strengthen your bones while burning calories at the same time. Lifting weights, using weight machines, and performing bodyweight exercises are all examples of strength training.

Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles to increase mobility and prevent injury. Plan to do stretches before and after your workouts.

How Much Is Enough?

Rather than thinking of exercise amounts in terms of minutes and hours, make it your goal to lead an active lifestyle all day, every day. The amount of time and intensity you dedicate to your workouts depend on your fitness level and endurance. Someone who's completely out of shape may only make it to the mailbox and back before feeling winded. Others can walk or jog around the block before needing a break.

What you want to do is make your first few workouts short and slow to avoid excessive soreness or injury. Each time you exercise, push yourself to go a few minutes longer, to move a little faster, or to lift a few more pounds. Work your way up to at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise over the course of a week and 20 to 40 minutes of strength-training on two non-consecutive days each week. Want to burn more calories or reap more health benefits? Exercise more than this amount. Just do it under your trainer’s supervision or you may get hurt.

Avoid Injury

Besides making a gradual entry into exercise, there are several things you can do to help prevent injury.

When exercising, take it easy on your weak spots—whether it is your knees, ankles, or back. If you ever feel pain, nausea, or dizziness, stop what you're doing.

Before your workout, spend five minutes doing light exercises to warm up your muscles, then at the end of your workout slowly bring your heart rate down with a five to ten minute cool down.

Use your trainer's expertise to learn proper form when lifting weights, using weight machines, or stretching.

And regardless of your workout, don't underestimate the power of a good pair of workout shoes. Find a comfortable, supportive pair that's designed for your specific type of exercise. The right shoes can mean the difference between pain and injury or a long-lasting, active lifestyle.