Step #1 - Walk at least 30 minutes every day
Walking is one the most beneficial activities we can do. It is low stress on the body and has tremendous benefits when it comes to building an aerobic foundation, reducing body fat, and maintaining adequate range of motion in your joints.
Choose walking whenever you have the chance be it going to work, to the store, or anywhere else. Grab a partner or join a walking group to give you some extra motivation and accountability.
Step #2 - Engage in moderate intensity aerobic training 2-4x per week
Walking is a great start but we also have to ensure that you're pushing your cardiovascular system a little more than normal. Instead of using your heart rate as a gauge (many people find this tedious) you can use what I call the "Talk Test". The Talk Test ensures that you can carry a conversation while exercising. This would be appropriate for your walking.
But now that we want to step up the intensity, you need to get to a point where maintaining a conversation is no longer easy to do. You're beginning to hear that "huff and puff" of your breath. Choose any cardio/aerobic activity that you enjoy - running, biking, elliptical, swimming, sports, etc...
We want to do this type of cardio/aerobic training 2-4x per week for at least 20 minutes.
Step #3 - Strength Train 2-4x per week
Resistance (or strength) training is absolutely critical to developing lean muscle and burning fat. It will dramatically increase your resting metabolic rate, strengthen and support your joints, and leave you feeling strong and energetic.
This type of training can take the form of body weight exercises (ie. push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, crunches, dips, etc...) or any other method which will stress your muscles (ie. free weights, tubing, etc...).
These workouts should be well balanced attending to all the body's musculature and don't necessarily have to broken up into "chest-biceps" type routines. I prefer using full-body functional training which means that we train movements and not muscle groups. This is the most effective for developing total body strength, balance between muscle groups, and is the most effective for those looking to lose weight.
For starters, choose 6 exercises and do 3 sets of each for 10-15 reps with a weight that will challenge you by the last few reps.
Step #4 - Stretch on a daily basis (and especially after exercise)
Stretching is crucial in order to maintain muscle flexibility and fluid body motion. The last thing you want is to be strong and have great musculature but limited in your range of motion (especially for athletes). Having a good degree of flexbility is also correlated with a reduction in injuries.
Stretching after (not before) your exercise sessions is recommended and helpful in restoring normal muscle length, especially since the muscles have just been subjected to increased loads and have most likely built up a good amount of toxins (ie. lactic acid).
Hold your stretches for 20-30 seconds (without bouncing) and breathe deeply to help further the stretch and deliver oxygen to the muscles. Activities like yoga are great for keeping the body limber.
Do you want to get in great shape but still not sure how to do so and don't necessarily feel like spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a trainer?
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