Fitness beginnings: Developing a workout plan

Published 6:24 am Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It’s time to start thinking about summer. This season is a great time to relax and spend time with family. One of the best ways to spend time with your family is during summer vacations, but planning for those can be expensive and time-consuming. At one time or another, we have all heard that exercise has benefits. Some of the most common benefits we tend to hear about are how exercise can help lower your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but the benefits only start there.

If you are just starting to work out or looking to shake up your routine, developing a workout plan can keep you from burning out too quickly as you begin your fitness journey and help you stay focused on your goals.

To get the results you want, your workout plan should include cardio exercises as well as strength training. Take into consideration your current fitness level and goals and customize a plan for you.

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Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, requires you to move your large muscles in the same direction for a certain period of time. This type of exercise increases your heartrate and breathing, which in turn, makes your heart and lungs stronger. You should do aerobic exercise at moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. Moderate intensity means you are working hard enough to raise your heartrate and sweat. While 2 hours and 30 minutes a week may seem like a long time, you can break it up into smaller periods over the week, such as five days of 30-minute work outs or 23, 10-minute activities spread throughout the week.

Customize the length of your workout time to fit your weekly schedule. As long as you are doing a moderate-intensity exercise for 10 minutes, you are making a difference. Starting slow is always okay. Some good examples of aerobic exercises include walking, running, Zumba and swimming. Pick an activity that you think might be fun or is something that you already enjoy doing. By doing so, you are more likely to stick with it.

Cardio exercise tends to be many people’s go-to form of physical activity, and often, many forget about the importance of strength training. Having strong muscles is so much more than being toned. Strong muscles can help you keep your balance, which is particularly important as you age. It can also make everyday tasks such as carrying groceries or children much easier. Your workout plan should include at least two days of strength training exercises that target all your major muscle groups including your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.

You can strength train with weights, resistance bands or simply by lifting your own weight through situps and pushups. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, you may want to start out with one set of muscle strengthening activities, which is between eight-12 repetitions of one exercise, and gradually increase to two to three sets to gain the maximum health benefits. You can do strength training on the same day as your aerobic activity, but remember that strength training is in addition to the 2 hours and 30 minutes of aerobic activity.

For more information on developing a workout plan, contact the Harlan County Extension office.

Lora Davidson is the Harlan County Extension agent for family & consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.