If you are physically active, you have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consistent weight-bearing exercise also strengthens your muscles and bones, helping to protect you from injuries. Adults should perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week along with at least two full-body strengthening workouts to maintain their weight. To lose weight, aim for 250 to 300 minutes each week.
Design For Optimal Health
To achieve two full-body workouts a week, split up your strength training sessions to target your upper or lower body. For instance, work your upper body on Mondays and Thursdays and your lower body on Tuesdays and Fridays. Do not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Complete two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise during the workouts.
Before beginning your strength-training workouts, perform cardio exercise to warm up your muscles. Divide the minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise between your four workout days by performing 40 minutes three days a week and 30 minutes one day.
Focusing the Cardio
Use cardio machines at your fitness facility to achieve at least the minimum recommended amount of aerobic exercise. Choose from walking, jogging or running on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bicycle or using a stair climber or elliptical machine. Begin with a slow, steady pace, then work up to a comfortable aerobic workout that is challenging but not exhausting. Perform the "talk test" while exercising -- talking to other gym-goers without gasping for air -- to make sure you are working at a safe level. If you cannot carry on a conversation comfortably, lower the intensity and speed of the machine.
Working Your Upper Body
Use free weights or upper-body strength training machines -- or a combination of the two -- to target your shoulders, arms, chest, back and abdomen. Use dumbbells to perform biceps curls and military presses to target your arms and shoulders. Lie on a flat weight bench and perform bench presses with a barbell to work your chest. Strengthen your central back with reverse flies with two dumbbells. Work your abdomen with the bicycle move or Plank position.
If your fitness facility offers strength training machines for your upper body, you may find these machines to be helpful -- especially if you are a beginner. Biceps curls, triceps extensions, chest presses, back rows and crunches all are possible on the appropriate strength-training machine. Ask a gym employee to instruct you on the proper use of this equipment to avoid injury.
Working Out The Lower Half
Work your thighs, glutes and hips with lunges and squats. Execute these exercises with dumbbells or a barbell or use your body weight as resistance. Calf raises on the edge of an aerobic step work your lower legs. Seated or standing calf-raise machines effectively mimic the traditional calf raise and provide an alternative. You also can work your thighs and hamstrings with a leg extension and leg curl machine, if available.