How to Start an Exercise Program

If it’s been awhile since you exercised regularly, you need to make a plan before jumping into a fitness routine. Being physically active is one of the things you can to to lower your risk of heart disease, but you want to make sure that you are exercising properly to minimize the risk of injury.

Before You Start

Before you sign up for an exercise class or a gym membership, make an appointment to see your doctor first. Discuss your plans for getting fit and the types of exercise you are planning to participate in. Ask whether some types of activities, such as lifting weights are off limits or restricted for you. Once you have the approval of your doctor, you can start your new exercise routine. And find out about heart healthy diet options to help ensure your new routine really works!cardiovascular exercise routine photo

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is better for your heart than stretching or strength training. Regular aerobic activity will strengthen the heart and lungs over time. People who engage in this type of exercise regularly will have a lower blood pressure and respiration rate.

Any activity that gets your heart rate up and keeps it elevated is a good choice. Examples of aerobic exercise include the following:

  • Bicycling
  • Cross-country Skiing
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Jumping Rope
  • Rowing
  • Skating
  • Walking

Start off slowly, and gradually increase the intensity and length of your workouts. You will want to get to the point where you are exercising for 20-30 minutes at a time, three or four times a week. Planning an exercise session every other day can help to keep you on track.

You don’t need to stick with a single aerobic activity to get (and stay) fit. Change up the routine to avoid getting bored or feeling like you are stuck in a rut. Walking is a great choice to start with, since it is easy to do and doesn’t require any special equipment other than a sturdy pair of shoes. As your level of fitness improves, you can start to add other fitness activities into the mix.