Physical activity is equally as important as nutritious food when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Getting started in a physical activity routine is often the hardest part. Just like you add healthy food to your diet little by little, until it becomes a normal part of your life, you can add physical activity to your schedule little by little. Stay tuned for more Create An Active Lifestyle posts over the next few months. They will help you build your understanding of the different aspects of an active lifestyle, and learn how to build an exercise routine all on your own! Today’s post will focus on aerobic exercise.
WHAT IS AEROBIC EXERCISE
Aerobic exercise is also known as cardiovascular exercise or cardio training. Basically, it is any physical activity that gets you breathing harder, gets your heart beating faster, and gets your muscles working harder than they would be if your body was at rest.
There are two different types of aerobic exercise, low impact and high impact. Both types are good for you, but it is important that you pick the one that works best for you and your lifestyle. If you need something that is easy on your joints, try low impact exercises like walking, bicycling, elliptical machine, or swimming. If something a little more fast paced works for you, try high impact exercises like running, jump rope, or plyometrics (jump training). You only want to attempt high impact exercises if you are already well conditioned. If exercise hasn’t been a normal part of your routine for at least a month, it is important to work yourself up to high impact exercises.
As you dive into aerobic exercise you can take it at different levels:
THE FITT PRINCIPLE
To put it all together, consider using the FITT principle. FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type.
FREQUENCY – MyPlate recommends that adults get aerobic exercise at least three days a week. Adding a few more days can provide even more health benefits.
INTENSITY – The intensity of aerobic exercise will be different for each person. The more intense the activity, the less time you will spend doing it. Both moderate and vigorous exercise is good for you.
TIME – MyPlate recommends that adults do at least two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise or one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise. This is the minimum recommendation. Aim for up to 5 hours a week for added health benefits.
TYPE – Doing a variety of different exercises is best. Try different types of exercise as well as different intensity levels.
Once you get started with the FITT principle, try varying the different components to challenge yourself. For more information, click here.
As with any exercise program, it is important to keep yourself safe. Here are a few tips:
- Check with your medical provider before you start a new program. Once you get the green light, don’t be afraid to dive right in.
- Start slowly and work yourself up. This will help prevent injury and keep you from burning out quickly.
- Stretching before and after exercise. Check back later for a post all about balance and flexibility.
- Wear proper shoes. Shoes that fit correctly are important for comfort and injury prevention.
- Stay hydrated. As you sweat during exercise, your body’s supply of water is diminishing. Staying properly hydrated before, during, and after exercise will help prevent dehydration.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
To review and simplify, follow these four points and you’re well on your way to a more active lifestyle:
- Complete at least three days of aerobic activity each week.
- You can choose moderate or vigorous activities.
- Get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity or one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous activity.
- Vary your routine with different types of activities.
Be sure to check back over the next few months to learn even more about creating an active lifestyle. Enjoy!
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant