Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your health. Eating healthy and exercising 150 minutes a week goes a long way in not only maintaining a healthy weight, but improving sleep and reducing the risk of chronic disease. Deciding to make a lifestyle change is the first step in the right direction. Sometimes people can become overwhelmed over what to do next, especially with an exercise routine. Bayhealth Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician Melissa Mackel, DO, CAQSM, recommends starting slow and building your endurance.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting a reasonable exercise routine.
Step 1 – Understand what 150 minutes of moderate intensity is
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is recommended each week. This means using 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate each time you exercise. “If a person tries to go from zero to 100 percent at once, they’re setting themselves up for failure,” says Dr. Mackel. “They need to match their workout to what they’re capable of doing. It’s not realistic to do too much too soon.”
Step 2 – Start with 10 minutes
When divvying up 150 minutes of exercise, it’s typically recommended to work out for 30 minutes, five days a week. Dr. Mackel recommends breaking this time down even further. Start out with 10 minutes for two or three days a week and then boost that up to four to five days a week.
Walking is the easiest exercise, but it has to be at a challenging rate. “A good way to gauge is if you can hold a conversation; if you can, you’re not getting the maximum benefit of your time spent,” Dr. Mackel said.
Step 3 – Increase your time to 30 minutes a day
Once you can exercise for 10 minutes a day for four to five days a week, you can increase your time to 30 minutes a day for five days a week. If walking becomes boring, you can add different types of exercises into your routine.
Dr. Mackel recommends taking fitness outdoors. There are also workout regimens you can complete at home. She says YouTube is a good resource for people who either can’t afford or don’t want to go to a gym. There are free videos for yoga, aerobics, dancing, meditation, and more. You can also go to a store to purchase an exercise video to do at home.
Step 4 – Increase your intensity
When you’ve reached a point where your routine seems easy, you can increase your intensity. This can be done by incorporating different types of cardio or strength training exercises into your routine or simply altering the amount of time you exercise. Instead of 30 minutes a day, your routines can change to 75 minutes of rigorous exercise with strength training two to three days a week.
The important thing to remember about making a lifestyle change is that it’s more than temporary. If you’re goal is to lose weight or get off a certain medication, it’s vital to maintain your healthy lifestyle after you’ve reached that goal. As for your routine, incorporating strength and conditioning into your routine is necessary for a total body workout. In the beginning you may experience soreness, and don’t be surprised if you can’t compete at the same level you once did. Don’t let this hinder your plans to be healthier. If you’re overwhelmed and need help, Dr. Mackel recommends consulting with your physician for an exercise plan.
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