Adapting your active lifestyle
One of the main purposes of exercise (besides the health benefits) is to help your body adapt so that it can perform tasks with greater ease or at a higher level. The trick is to not go from zero to hero in a day, and to do the right combination of exercises to ensure getting fitter safely.
The mainstay of any exercise routine rests on four principles, referred to as FITT:
- Frequency of training – how often
- Intensity of training – how hard
- Time spent – session time
- Type of exercise – which exercises
Frequency is about how often you exercise. The recommended frequency, in order to improve your general fitness, is most days of the week.
How often you exercise and the extent to which your cardio-respiratory fitness improves has a dose-response type relationship. In other words, if you’re a beginner, you’ll see great improvements in your fitness. As your fitness improves, these increases will not be as noticeable. The good news is that you won’t be enjoying fewer health benefits – as long as you keep up the regular exercise.
Rest and recovery is always important. When starting out, be sure to rest on alternate days. Even as your fitness improves, you’ll need at least one rest day in the week to allow your muscles to recover.
The intensity at which you should be exercising is relative to many factors, including the following:
- Your level of fitness
- Medications (they may increase or decrease heart rate)
- Risk of cardiovascular or orthopaedic injury
- Individual preferences
- Individual goals and objectives
If you’re starting out, it goes without saying that your intensity should not be too strenuous. Intensity can escalate as your fitness improves.
Ideally, you should be active for 30 minutes on most days of the week. The more physically active you are (in other words, the higher the frequency, duration or intensity of exercise) the greater the health benefits.
Very few people can do 15 minutes of constant exercise when they start an exercise programme. That’s okay. You can start off slowly and do as much as you can manage in the beginning. Pushing yourself too hard initially can lead to injuries and a feeling of possible failure that may discourage you from exercising.
Even if you start off with two sessions per week, that’s awesome. Slowly set greater goals and eventually aim to exercise four to five times per week for 40 – 60 minutes per session. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to get to a stage where you’re exercising for 60 – 90 minutes at a moderate intensity each day of the week. Remember to include a warm up, stretching period and warm down section into your routine.
If you’re training for athletic fitness and would like to compete, then you’ll need to train longer and harder to reach the required level of fitness.
Type of exercise
The greatest improvements in cardiovascular fitness occur when the exercise:
- Involves the use of large muscle groups
- Is maintained continuously
- Is rhythmical and aerobic in nature
Exercise of this nature raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for an extended period of time. Examples of aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, swimming, and endurance game activities.
The most important thing is to choose something that you enjoy. Try a bit of variation as well so that you don’t get bored.
Written by the myvirginactive team