Tailoring Your Exercise Regime To Match Your Fitness Levels

Before you start on any programme, it is better to assess your aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition. Whether young or old, an athlete or a couch potato, find out how fit you are. Weighing yourself on the scale is not the way to judge your fitness levels. Instead tracking your heart rate at a given pace, measuring the distance that you can cover in a set time, the amount of weight you can lift and judging your fitness level from the way you feel. Benefits from exercises are subtle, for instance, cholesterol levels, blood pressure or the ease with which you can manage your daily chores or climb stairs or walk a distance. Once you know that, you can plan your fitness programme.

Common Activities Around the House

Type of activity Calories burned per 20 minutes
Walking 80-140
Climbing stairs 100-200
Cleaning the house 100-200
Bicycling 120-125
Gardening 100-180

Fitness comes in easy-to-access packages but youngsters opt for quick results and they indulge in starvation diets or intake of fat burners to lose weight. If you try to reduce in such a way; your ability to burn fat decreases. The moment you stop the programme, you may gain weight on the rebound with twice as much fat.

Ascertain your current level of fitness before you join a gym or embark upon any structured fitness programme. You need not pass each test with flying colours! If you enjoy the rigorous workouts at the gym, well for you. But once you realize the benefits of exercise and of course the fun of exercise, you will need just a little push!

Make Exercise a Habit

Commit yourself to exercise just as you have other commitments in life, which you need to fulfil. Stick to a regular time every day and check your progress. Can you walk a certain distance faster now than when you began? Or is your heart rate slower now? Health clubs and gyms are expensive but the cost may act as an incentive to exercise regularly.

woman plays football

The Best Time to Exercise

The best time to exercise may be the time when it is convenient for you. The point here is making exercise a daily routine. The human sleep and wake cycles follow a 24-hour rhythm called ‘circadian rhythms’. And this cycle regulates your body functions such as your blood pressure, alertness metabolism etc. the circadian rhythms are inborn. If you are a day person, you exercise in the morning and may find exercising in the evening as tiring. The research studies have come up with the latest findings.

According to circadian research experts, the optimal time to exercise is when your body temperature is at its highest and for most people it is between 4 and 5 in the evening. Also, the strength output is 5 per cent higher at around mid-day; aerobic endurance is about 4 per cent higher in late afternoon and injuries are less likely to occur in the afternoon.

Thus, late afternoon time is the best for exercising. It is at this time that you are alert, your body temperature is the highest, your muscles are warm and flexible; the muscles strength too is at its peak and there are less chances of injury. Although afternoon exercising is good, morning exercisers may be more consistent.

Many sleep experts feel that evening exercises help you get better sleep and can improve your sleep quality. Ideally, you can pick up whichever time is suitable to you and stick to the exercise regime you prefer and make it a part of your daily routine.

Giving Up Too Soon

Normally, many people quit exercising because of not having enough time or not seeing any results. Frustration creeps in and you tend to quit too soon. Your workouts many not work because of all quantity and no-quality. If you simply observe in a gym, there will be people loitering around aimlessly, walking leisurely on a treadmill while watching or simply looking bored. Make exercising fun-filled instead of thinking it as torture. Focus on the quality and be sincere to increase your fitness levels.

Try not to set unrealistic goals that you cannot meet. Be honest about your abilities and your level of commitment. Be reasonable, progress slowly or you are bound to get frustrated. Exercising at a moderate pace for about 30 minutes everyday is good for maintaining fitness but do not think that you have burned plenty of calories and fat by doing so. It is hard to lose body fat by exercise alone. Over time, exercise can burn calories along with a proper diet regimen.

Don’t find reasons to stop. Walk as much as you can, climb stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator, do vacuuming, gardening, and other household chores to increase your activity level. Do a variety of exercise activities instead of just one. Variety will help you stick with it. If you get bored try exercising with friends. A long walk once or twice a week or playing badminton, tennis with a friend on weekends is good. Unless your doctor tells you to stop exercising for health reasons, stay on.

tennis shot young girl

Adapt to Changes

The principle of adaption comes into action when you efficiently perform the same exercise day after day. But by doing the same exercise again and again you eventually hit a plateau. You may then not see any weight loss, strength increase or progress in physical fitness. Fitness experts suggest a modification in workouts every few weeks or months. You can change the type of exercise, the time, the amount of weights you lift or number of repetitions.

Make changes if you happen to use an incorrect form or technique. Faulty exercise can cause injuries, pain and soreness. Seek help to know the correct technique of an exercise or learn from an expert.

Start with the exercise slowly. Do not overdo it on the first day itself. Devote a 5-minute period to stretching and let your body ‘warm-up’. At the end of your workout, take another 5 minutes to cool down with a slower exercise pace. Feeling stiff at the beginning is normal at first but if you have hurt yourself or pulled a muscle stop exercising for a few days to enable your body to heal. Minor niggles can be relieved by rest and pain-killers.

Choosing the Right Activity

Physical activities can be fun but choose an activity that you think you will enjoy and will fit easily into your routine. Anyone under the age of 35 who is physically healthy usually does not need to consult their doctor. But if you have any health problems like a heart disease or have had a heart attack; or if you are older than 50 years, not used to energetic activity; or have a family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc. let your doctor tailor your exercise for you.

Pay Attention to Warning Signals

Some warning signals that you must pay attention to includes dizziness, breaking into a cold sweat, fainting or pressure in the upper parts of your body just after exercising. If you feel any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and contact your family doctor for a consultation.

Take medical advice before you start an exercise regimen if you have

  • Heart ailments, family history of heart attacks, stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Dizzy spells
  • Breathlessness after mild exertion
  • Problems with ligaments or tendons
  • Arthritis or bone problems
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