Everyone needs exercise, so finding a way to fit activity into your daily schedule is important. Physicians recommend that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, which could break down into 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Whether you choose outdoor running as your exercise of choice or you prefer to do some other type of workout, it's important to plan your time so the exercise fits into your schedule. Setting goals is also helpful, whether you want to get stronger, lose weight, or work toward entering a race or other competitive event.
Warming up before exercise may seem like an optional activity, but jumping right into a workout is not wise. You risk excessive strain on your muscles when you don't warm up, which could lead to injury. Take a few moments to get your blood flowing before you begin to exercise at a more intense pace. You'll likely find that your muscles perform better when you take the time to warm up, too. A dynamic warm-up primes your muscles so they're ready to work. One of the best ways to warm up is to perform the movements you'll do for your more intense workout, but perform them at a slower pace or without heavier resistance. For example, if you will be engaging in a strength training routine with weights, you could perform the exercises without weights to warm up. If you will be running, you might warm up with a brisk walk or a slow jog.
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Starting a new running routine can be exciting, but it's prudent to begin slowly so you don't injure yourself. Novice runners can often begin a new regimen by running for about 20 minutes three days per week. As your body acclimates to the new exercise, you can gradually increase your running time and the number of times you run each week. Wait to increase your distance until you are fully comfortable at your current level, though. Those who need to start more slowly might go back and forth between running and walking to increase strength and endurance. By starting slowly, you should be able to avoid the extreme muscle soreness that often plagues new runners.
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Strength training is an important part of an overall exercise regimen. Begin slowly when you start a new strength training routine to avoid excessive soreness and injury. Choose very light weights for the first workouts, focusing on correct body mechanics and form. Take a rest between sets to allow your muscles to recover. Hiring a coach to help you get started can be helpful for those new to strength training. Allowing your body to rest and recover after working out is also very important for gaining strength.
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Sports and Other Outdoor Activities
Although running is an excellent form of exercise, there are other ways to work out as well. Hiking or walking can be ideal for people who want or need less impact while exercising. Cycling is another form of low-impact exercise that provides beneficial cardiovascular activity. Cycling can be done on city streets or trails, and bicycles are designed for both types of riding. Swimming can be an enjoyable activity, and this form of exercise is also ideal for those who need to work out without impact. Swimming laps is one option, and water aerobics classes are another possibility.
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At the end of a session, it's important to finish strong. Your body needs to cool down slowly after you finish the exertion. Cooling down allows your heart rate to slow gradually, your body temperature to lower, and your breathing rate to normalize. Ideally, you should gradually reduce your movements to lessen the intensity. If you've been running, slow your pace to a jog for about five minutes and then walk for a few more minutes. Once your breathing and heart rate have slowed, engage in about five minutes of stretching to lengthen the muscles you've just used. Stretching at the end of a workout helps avoid muscle soreness.
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By Joe McFerrin