Whether you’re just starting an exercise program, or getting back to fitness after a layoff, here’s how to get the most out of simple workouts. This article is also for those beginning our walking program.
Even if you’ve never exercised, the right program is one that’s simple, safe and provides immediate benefits. Often, people start and stop exercising, or switch from one program, to another out of frustration, lack of enjoyment or pain.
Above all, a program should be fun and suited to the individual, and it should not be painful or uncomfortable.
Starting an effective exercise routine is easy, requires no special clothes (except for flat shoes) and only a small time commitment. A heart-rate monitor can help you maximize the benefits of your exercise program. The primary goal is to improve aerobic fitness, which develops the body’s fat-burning capabilities. This in turn increases energy, helps your heart and lungs, improves circulation and brain function and tones muscles.
A good exercise program can even help you look younger, too. (That said, ask your doctor if you have a medical condition that prevents you from walking without risk, or if you have any questions about safety.)
These three steps are important for easy exercise:
- Choose the type of workout you want to do. You can either perform various activities, or stick with one. Let’s assume you choose walking—nothing will work better for overall fitness and health benefits (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).
- Start walking regularly.
- Once you are comfortable walking very easy for a week or two, you’re ready to monitor your workouts in order to individualize each one. This will make certain you continue to burn body fat even after exercise is over.
A heart monitor helps you get the most out of your workouts by making sure you remain at the proper level of easy intensity. By following an individualized heart rate, you can train your body to develop aerobic fitness and burn more body fat and attain other health benefits (see The 180-Formula LINK).
Using heart monitors will also allow you to easily test your progress. Rather than guessing that benefits are being realized, you can use the MAF Test (LINK) along with a heart-rate monitor to guide your progress.
Warm-up and cool-down
It’s important to incorporate a warm-up and cool-down routine into your workout. This routine does not involve stretching. Instead, it simply means that you start walking slowly and build up your pace over a 15-minute period.
To cool down, do the opposite—gradually reduce your pace over the last 15 minutes of the workout. If your walk is a total of 30 minutes, you warm up then cool down. For a 45-minute workout, warm up, maintain the quicker pace for 15 minutes, then cool down. A warm-up/cool-down routine creates a powerful physiological response in the body that promotes many of the health benefits mentioned above.
An easy way to start
Day one of exercise is simple—just go outside and walk. Five minutes? Sure, that can be your first day. Or you might want to go for 10 or 20 minutes. Whatever your starting point, you will soon be increasing the time of each workout as your body becomes more fit.
The benefits begin with the very first workout. By increasing up to five days a week, you’ll continue to bring significant improvements to your health and fitness.
There are many types of easy aerobic exercise you can perform. Some like their workout routines to include more than one aerobic exercise during the course of a week. This can include riding a bike, swimming, aerobic dance or walking. Walking, however, is the easiest and most convenient workout to do. No other routine is better for aerobic fitness.
Keeping a schedule
It’s best to develop a routine with exercise. A morning workout around the same time helps you be consistent. Some people walk at lunchtime, others after work to help wind down. If certain days are particularly busy for you, don’t worry about a workout. For example, if Monday and Friday are hectic, you still have five other days for exercise.
You don’t need to work out every day—three to five days a week will work wonders for health and fitness, and promote weight-loss. Once you improve your body’s aerobic system, which can take up to three months, some simple strength workouts or other exercise routines can be added.
After 1 month of walking
This article is the last article of Step 5 of the online program. If you’ve already completed steps 1-4 of our online program and are ready to move on to Step 6, continue below. If you would like to know more about our online program, we recommend that you read What is the MAF Method?