Developed by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
MAKING A COMMITMENT
The decision to carry out a physical fitness program cannot be taken lightly. It requires a lifelong commitment of time and effort. Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing you teeth. Patience is essential. You can't regain in a few days or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living, but you can get it back if you persevere.
CHECKING YOUR HEALTH
If you're under 35 and in good health, you don't need to see a doctor before beginning an exercise program. But if you are over 35 and have been inactive for several years, you should consult you physician, who may or may not recommend a graded exercise test. Other conditions that indicate a need for medical clearance are: High blood pressure, Heart trouble, Family history of early stroke or heart attach deaths, Frequent dizzy spells, Extreme breathlessness after mild exertion, Arthritis or other bone problems, Severe muscular, ligament or tendon problems, Other known or suspected disease.
A WORKOUT SCHEDULE
How often, how long and how hard you exercise, and what kinds of exercises you do should be determined by what you are trying to accomplish. Here are the amounts of activity necessary for the average, healthy person to maintain a minimum level of overall fitness -
WARMUP - 5-10 minutes of exercises such as walking, slow jogging, knee lifts, arm circles or trunk rotations. Low intensity movements that stimulate movements to be used in the activity can also be included in the warmup.
MUSCULAR STRENGTH - a minimum of two 20 minute sessions per week that include exercises for all the major muscle groups. Lifting weights is the most effective way to increase strength.
MUSCULAR ENDURANCE - at least three 30 minute sessions each week that include exercises such as calisthenics, pushups, situps, pull-ups, and weight training for all the major muscle groups.
CARDIORESPIRATORY ENDURANCE - at least three 20 minute bouts of continuous aerobic (activity requiring oxygen) rhythmic exercise each week. Popular aerobic conditioning activities including brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, rope-jumping, rowing, cross-country skiing, and some continuous action games like racquetball and handball.
FLEXIBILITY - 10-12 minutes of daily stretching exercises performed slowly without a bouncing motion. This can be included after a warmup or during a cooldown.
COOLDOWN - a minimum of 5-10 minutes of slow walking, low-level exercise, combined with stretching.
MEASURING YOUR HEART RATE
Heart rate is widely accepted as a good method for measuring intensity during running, swimming, cycling and other aerobic activities. Exercise that doesn't raise your heart rate to a certain level and keep it there for 20 minutes won't contribute significantly to cardiovascular fitness.
The heart rate you should maintain is called your Target Heart Rate. There are several ways of arriving at this figure. One of the simplest is : Maximum Heart Rate (220 - age) X 70%. Thus, the target heart rate for a 40 year-old would be 126.
CONTROLLING YOUR WEIGHT
The key to weight control is keeping energy intake (food) and energy output (physical activity) in balance. When you consume only as many calories as your body needs, your weight will usually remain constant. If you take in more calories than your body needs, you will put on excess fat. If you expend more energy than you take in you will burn excess fat.
Exercise plays an important role in weight control by increasing energy output, calling on stored calories for extra fuel. Recent studies show that not only does exercise increase metabolism during a workout, but it causes your metabolism to stay increased for a period of time after exercising, allowing you to burn more calories.
Lack of physical activity causes muscles to get soft, and if food intake is not decreased, added body weight is almost always fat. Once-active people, who continue to eat as they always have after settling into sedentary lifestyles, tend to suffer from "creeping obesity."
WHEN TO EXERCISE
The hour just before the evening meal is a popular time for exercise. The late afternoon workout provides a welcome change of pace at the end of the work day and helps dissolve the day's worries and tensions.
Another popular time to work out is early morning, before the work day begins. Advocates of the early start say it makes them more alert and energetic on the job.
You should not exercise strenuously during extreme hot, humid weather, or within two hours after eating. Heat and/or digestion both make heavy demands on the circulatory system.
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