If you've decided to start an at-home exercise plan, you may be unsure where to begin. "The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans" released by the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week and at least two days a week of strength training such as lifting weights, pushups and abdominal crunches. Use these guidelines to develop an exercise plan at home -- one that works for you.
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Kick Up Your Moderate-Intensity
Moderate-intensity exercise will get your heart-rate going and have you breathing heavier. If you can carry on a conversation but are not able to sing a song, you are performing an activity in the moderate-intensity range. If you can barely get out a sentence, then you are exercising vigorously. As a beginner, you want to start off with a goal of moderate-intensity exercise. As you gain experience, you may want to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Have Fun with Cardio
The key to sticking with a new exercise routine is to choose an activity that you like. Some examples of popular at home exercise ideas that can be done at moderate-intensity are walking outside or on a treadmill, biking, dancing, swimming, soccer with the kids, and even gardening. Exercise DVDs are a convenient way to learn a new workout like kickboxing or step aerobics at home. Whatever exercise you choose, make it your goal to get in at least 50 minutes of this activity three times a week to meet the 150-minute recommendation. If 50 minutes is too difficult, start with 30 minutes and work up to 50.
Use Your Body to Build Muscle
Body-weight exercises are ideal for beginners because they don't require equipment and are safer than traditional weightlifting exercises. Some examples are pushups, sit-ups, planks, squats, lunges, step-ups, and triceps dips. Start with one exercise for each major muscle group. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends eight to 12 repetitions and two to four sets of every exercise. A repetition is completing an exercise one time; for instance, one squat or one pushup. A set is the group of repetitions completed before a rest period. Take a two- to three-minute rest in between every set. Add two days of body-weight exercises into your weekly schedule. Give yourself one day between strength training for your muscles to recover.
Get Ready to Work Your Plan
Your weekly workout routine might look something like this: 30 to 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 20 to 30 minutes of body-weight exercises on Tuesday and Thursday. Or you can knock out both aerobic and strength training exercises on Monday, Wednesday and Friday if a three day a week plan is more feasible for you. Put your plan into your cell phone calendar or post it somewhere in your home where you will see it often.
A Word About Safety
Before beginning any new exercise plan, consult your physician. You should always begin every workout session with at least 10 minutes of warm up such as a brisk walk, jogging in place or jumping rope. It is important to do a full body stretch after your warm up and again at the end of your workout to protect your muscles from injury and promote flexibility. Work with a qualified personal trainer or a fit friend that can help you learn how to exercise safely and maximize your workouts to reach your fitness goals.