Exercise: A Beginner’s Guide
National Physical Fitness & Sports Month 2018
STOP reading this if you have no interest in improving your heart health, building strength, experiencing a happier disposition, even losing a little weight.
If you’re still reading – good news! This article will help introduce regular physical activity to your day WITHOUT going to the gym or buying expensive workout equipment.
Benefits of Exercise
Experts agree that regular physical activity has numerous health benefits. For youth, exercise can improve bone health, heart health and build strong muscles. Adults who exercise can lower their risk of heart disease, diabetes, even some types of cancer. And for older adults, regular physical activity can mean fewer falls and improved cognitive functioning.
Lose 5%, Gain A LOT
And what about the weight you stand to lose? Did you know that losing even 5% of your weight (10 lbs for a 200 lb person) can significantly improve your overall health? It can:
- Ease the pressure on your joints reducing your risk for arthritis (or easing the symptoms of arthritis if you already have it)
- Raise the “good” cholesterol and lower your blood pressure
- Help you sleep better and ease the effects of sleep apnea
- Improve your mood
- Help reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Plus, modern research suggests that it can even reduce your risk for certain types of cancer.
Before You Begin
If you are over the age of 50 or have been unhealthy, talk to your physician before beginning an exercise regimen. Immediately cease exercising and call 911 if you experience dizziness, chest pain, nausea, vomiting or shortness of breath.
Finally, start slow! The point of introducing exercise into your daily routine is to build healthy habits that will help you in the long term, NOT to see extreme results immediately.
So check out our slideshow below to get started … and Happy Exercising!
Slideshow: Beginner’s Guide to Exercise
Types of Exercise
There are 3 types of exercise that experts recommend for overall wellness: Aerobic, Strength Building, and Flexibility.
Walking is perhaps the easiest place to start. Begin by walking 5 to 10 minutes a few days per week. Once this is comfortable, build yourself up a little at a time to 30-minute walks most days of the week. Ready for more? Try tai chi, dancing, or swimming!
Strength Training | Arms
Push-ups/Modified Push-ups: If regular push-ups are too strenuous, try one of these instead. 1. Use your knees to rest on instead of your feet/toes. OR 2. Do a standing push-up. Start by standing a foot or so away from a wall. Place palms on the wall at shoulder height and, using your arms, slowly lean towards the wall, getting your nose as close to the wall as you can. (No cheating by stretching out your neck!) Other arm strengthening exercises to try include couch dips or weight lifting (start with 1 to 2 lbs).
Strength Training | Core
Crunches are always a good core-strengthening exercise. But if crunches are too hard right now, start with a plank or a bridge. Modified Plank: Lay on your stomach. Bend your elbows so that they are directly underneath your shoulders and lift yourself up to rest on your forearms and toes. Hold this position for 15 seconds (or as long as you can), making sure to keep your spine and neck straight while engaging your glutes, legs and stomach muscles.
Strength Training | Legs
Get (and keep) strong legs by doing lunges, squats, or by simply climbing stairs. Step-ups are a great place to start. Using a small and sturdy step stool, step up onto the stool alternating between your left and right leg. Keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight. Start by doing 10 to 15 of these and work your way up to more sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Don’t overlook the immense benefits of stretching! These kinds of exercises help prevent injuries, reduce back pain and can help improve your balance. Mayo Clinic published this useful video series featuring nine common stretches. Try to hold a stretch for at least 10 seconds, working your way slowly up to 30 seconds. Do this most days of the week for the best benefits.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water while you’re exercising. Make sure you’ve had a full glass of water (16 ounces) a few hours before exercising. Drink at least half a glass every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Within a half an hour of finishing exercise, drink another half-glass at least.
A word on sports drinks: they often have added sugar and may be high in sodium. Unless you’re training for a marathon, water is more than sufficient!
This health center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b, and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n).
Dr John Jones DO
Dr. Anne Maiden DO, FAAP
William McGinnis FNP
Cleopatra Park PNP
Debra Rodgers-Herington FNP
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Phoenix, AZ 85014
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