Alex Benitez, Life Extension Health Advisor
Not surprisingly, many people simply don’t know where to start when it comes to initiating an exercise regimen. Here are some of the fundamental exercise questions that we field on a daily basis:
- What kind of exercise is the best?
- How long do I have to exercise for?
- How many days per week do I need to exercise?
Exercise Category #1 — Cardiorespiratory ExercisesRaising your heart rate and breathing rate when exercising constitutes cardiorespiratory exercise. The ACSM recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of cardiorespiratory exercise per week. There are two ideal ways to achieve this goal:
- Exercise for 30–60 minutes 5 days per week at 70% of your maximum heart rate, which is considered moderate-intensity exercise. (Maximum heart rate = [200-age] x .7)
- Exercise for 20–30 minutes 3 days per week at 80% of your maximum heart rate, which is considered high-intensity exercise.
Now maybe you cannot exercise at a moderate or high level – if so, that’s okay. Remember, any amount of exercise is a good thing. For example, experts agree across the board that walking for 45 minutes every day is good for your heart, brain and overall outlook.
Here are some examples of cardiorespiratory exercises:
- Elliptical Trainer (easy on the knees)
- Water Aerobics
- Spinning, Dance and Aerobic Classes
Exercise Category #2 — Resistance Exercises
Very light or light intensity is best for older people or previously sedentary adults who are just starting to exercise. Typically, two to four sets of each exercise will help you improve your strength and power. Here are the major muscle groups to focus on:
Another option worth considering is resistance bands. These offer safe resistance throughout a full range of motion, they’re relatively inexpensive, and they can be used just about anywhere. The Sports Injury Clinic has a great page that demonstrates the different exercises that can be done using resistance bands if you’re looking for inspiration.
Exercise Category #3 — Flexibility Exercises
Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating about 60 seconds per stretch. Note that flexibility exercises are most effective when your muscles are warm. Light aerobic activity or a hot bath both work well for warming up your muscles before stretching.
Exercise Category #4 — Neuromotor ExercisesNeuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week. Exercises should involve motor skills like balance, agility, coordination and gait. Examples of this sort of exercise would be tai chi and yoga.
These types of exercise are excellent to improve physical function and can even help prevent falls in older adults. Typically, 20–30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.
Today is the Day to Get StartedStarting an exercise routine from scratch or changing your current routine can be a daunting task. But remember, moving your body and toning your muscles is arguably the greatest thing you can do to impact health and longevity.
Our best advice is to start slowly with walking and light resistance exercises. Eventually, you can graduate to more moderate aerobic exercises like jogging, elliptical trainers or swimming and increase the number of reps with each resistance exercise. Soon you will be ready for yoga and spinning classes, which can be quite intense.
Here’s our point — get moving! Inside, outside, with friends or alone, the key thing is to just start exercising today. Don’t make it a job. Find a way to enjoy it! Do this, and you’ll reap the benefits for many years to come.
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