Exercise Benefits For Your Entire Body

Working out with a friend or group is a great way to stay motivated and stick to your fitness routine.

There are many reasons to begin or maintain a regular exercise program. First, an improved physical activity level may lower your blood pressure, and also prevent heart attacks and strokes. Numerous medical studies have shown that an active lifestyle prolongs and improves the quality of life. Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging or riding a bike, has been shown to lower blood pressure. Second, something as simple as a regular walking program (30 to 60 minutes, three to four times weekly) can improve your circulation and breathing, while at the same time conditioning your body.

Other cardiovascular fitness activities include hiking; swimming; and participating in aerobics classes and sports such as tennis, racquetball and basketball. 

If you're about to embark on an exercise program, here are some tips on getting started:

  • If you haven't been exercising regularly, check with your doctor before beginning any new program; if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease, work with your doctor to determine a safe and effective exercise plan

  • Read up on the sport or activity you've chosen

  • Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercising

  • If it's too hot to exercise outdoors, find an indoor facility or work out early in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that is appropriate for the activity

  • Begin your exercise regimen slowly and steadily, and have plenty of patience -- don't overdo it; trying to do too much too fast could lead to muscle strain, back problems, or any other number of joint or muscle disorders

  • If you're getting into weight lifting, allow your muscles the chance to ease into the workout regimen

  • If you're getting into aerobic exercise, observe the workout session to determine if the plan is right for you; consider beginning with low-impact aerobics, rather than the more demanding high-impact aerobics

  • If you're getting into running, warm and loosen your muscles first with stretching exercises; hold the stretch position for 15 to 20 seconds; avoid a bouncing stretch

  • Find someone experienced in fitting shoes for the activity you've chosen to avoid damage or strain to your feet and legs

If you're considering investing in exercise equipment, know what your fitness goals are to select the appropriate equipment:

  • To improve aerobic fitness, consider a treadmill, a stair climber, a ski machine, a rowing machine, a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer

  • To improve muscular strength, consider a home gym

And before you invest:

Make sure you have enough space to use the equipment properly; if the equipment must be set up and put away for each exercise session, be sure that is not a deterrent to your fitness program

  • Make sure you are comfortable with the movements and exercise required, including concentration and coordination needed, and learning curve; with a strength training machine, make sure changing weights is exceedingly simple; with a rowing machine, make sure there isn't undue strain on your back; the equipment should fit you

  • Don't overbuy expensive features or gadgets that you won't use frequently

  • Talk with other exercisers and fitness professionals

  • Don't skimp on the basics, such as sturdy construction; and smooth, quiet operation

  • Try out the equipment before making a purchase, and try it more than once to check for stability, structural integrity and ease of operation; for cardio machines, spend at least 20 minutes trying different programs; for strength equipment, do a set of 10 repetitions

  • Try the top-of-the-line equipment, so you can compare the quality of features as you check other brands

  • Shop around, and compare prices, as well as features

  • Investigate various models and manufacturers; and understand the differences in equipment, construction and warranty

  • Check the equipment's warranty, and know what's required for the equipment to be repaired or serviced under warranty; know if the warranty is from the manufacturer or from the retailer

  • Find out about assembly and setup, service and maintenance

  • If you are buying online, ensure the company is reputable and will ship the equipment safely so that it isn't damaged in transit

Good luck as you begin and sustain an important element of healthy living. You'll soon notice a difference in the way you look, feel and work.