How to Choose the Right Exercise Training Program
Photo courtesy of Carmen Mohan
Most people know exercise is beneficial to health. Exercise activates our problem-solving brain, gives us the vitality we need to enjoy people we love, and improves our ability to cope with life’s stresses. That’s why an exercise training program is the key to ensuring you make the most of your body’s inherent value. A training program is a multi-week plan designed to gradually improve your health over about three months.
There are many different types of training programs for aerobic exercise like walking, running, cycling, or swimming. Different types of exercise are better for different people, so make sure you pick the right type for your needs. Consider what you like doing and what feels best, and discuss the choice with your doctor before you get started. You may even want to incorporate several types of exercise into your training program.
Tips for Choosing an Exercise Training Plan
Regardless of which type of exercise you choose, a training plan can help you stay consistent, so you reach your health goals. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a training program. Remember these important tips as you choose a fitness plan and get started on your journey toward better health:
1. Your exercise training starts where you are, not where you wish you were. Have you ever resolved to get healthy only to wind up injuring yourself? Starting an exercise program at too high an intensity is one of the most common mistakes. The program that is right for you should not make you huff and puff. Exercise should not hurt. If it does, slow down or take a break for as long as you need to recover. Before you start, ask your doctor to review your training program and see if they recommend any changes.
2. Take at least two days off, preferably three. Days off are sometimes called rest days. The body needs time to recover from exercise. During rest days, the body heals and strengthens itself. Having enough rest is important because the heart and lungs adjust more quickly to exercise than tendons and muscles do. To help avoid injury, we have to slow down for long enough to allow our tendons and muscles to catch up to the cardiovascular system. A good training program incorporates this principle.
3. Your training plan should be designed to reach a meaningful goal. The goal should be specific and clear. Choose a time goal like being able to walk without stopping for 15 minutes, or try a speed goal like being able to run a 15-minute mile. Keeping the end in mind when you get started will keep you moving in the right direction — toward better health.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before you start a new training program. Your doctor can recommend an exercise that will help you meet your specific health goals without causing any harm. Don’t be shy to discuss your concerns about your exercise program with your provider. If you need more help getting started, you can also hire a personal trainer or use an exercise training app for motivation and tips.
For some inspiration, check out this example training plan in the PDF below.
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About the Author
Carmen Mohan, MD, FACP, prescribes food and exercise as medicine. She is the author of The Women's Guide to Health: Run Walk Run, Eat Right, and Feel Better
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