Your workout program needs to contain three essential components to be safe, effective and balanced. A balanced routine reduces your risk of injuries such as strained muscles or painful joints, plus each type of exercise contributes to your overall well-being. Aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular system and helps with weight loss or maintenance. Resistance exercise improves your muscular tone and endurance. Flexibility exercise enhances your range of motion. Some days your workouts will include all three components, other days you may do only two. Throughout the week, the balanced routine helps you reach your fitness goals and keeps you pain-free for your next session.
Include 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercises on three to six days a week. Reserve one day off for recovery. Use full-body, rhythmic movements such as walking, cycling, swimming, stair climbing, cross-country skiing, jogging, skating and rowing to elevate your heart rate to a level that leaves you slightly breathless but able to keep up a conversation.
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Do resistance training three days a week with at least one day of rest between workouts. Include exercises for all your major muscle groups, such as your shoulders, back, chest, core, glutes, arms, legs and calves. Use a combination of weight training and bodyweight exercises such as the bench press or pushups. Complete at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Increase the number of sets as your strength improves. Use a weight that is tiring for the final two repetitions of each set.
Save time at the end of your aerobic and strength training workouts for stretching. Stretch your major muscle groups including your back, chest, shoulders, arms, hips, legs and calves. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
Use a variety of aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises to avoid overuse injuries.
When strength training, work opposing muscle groups to keep your body in balance. For example, when you do a chest exercise such as a pushup, do a back exercise such as a pullup. Or, when you perform an arm curl, perform an arm extension.
Speak with your doctor regarding the safety of exercise for you.