By Nathaniel Frost, Columnist
When a person approaches me about starting an exercise program, I am anxious to help. After all, it is what I do for a living. When that person is a baby boomer (50 years old or more) or a senior citizen looking for exercise, I really want to understand what his or her goals are.
I assume that they are currently not very active and have probably tried to start a program before and didn’t continue it.
So before we do anything, I urge three things:
1. Set specific manageable goals—like I want to be able to run a 5k, or I want to lose inches on my waist line or I’d like to fit it into some old clothes that no longer fit.
2. Schedule the exercise session and stick to it—I might suggest a person meets with a certified personal trainer like me one or two days a week, join a yoga or aerobics class, and then schedule another day or two where one can work out alone.
3. Start Slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, or in a month. You have to know that, like the tortoise, slow and steady will win the race. Trying to do much too soon and you’ll quit. I’ve seen it happen.
How about you?
Are you looking to get started in an exercise program?
Here are some basic tips I share with new clients:
· Start with some cardio: Try to do some cardio exercise 3 to 4 days a week at a moderate level. I highly recommend swimming because it reduces stress on the joints, but a hike in the woods or the exercise bicycle can also work. Work yourself up to exercise that lasts from 20-to-30 minutes at a time. If you are 50 years old, try to get your heart into the 120 beats per minute category.
· Include some weight training: Don’t think you have to pump heavy weights. You don’t. In fact, you shouldn’t. You can use your own weight (like sit-ups and pushups) as well as bands, medicine balls and free weights under 20 lbs. We’ll be discussing certain exercises in the future, but trust me you’ll start to see results pretty quickly if you can fit in three workouts each week.
· Take yoga or Pilates: Guys, don’t laugh. Improving total body strength and balance are very important. Maybe substitute one of your weight training days for a yoga class. You’ll feel the difference. It reduces stress, increases flexibility and gains balance — important for people as they get older.
· Watch what you eat: I know, you’ve heard this before. Here’s one way that you might be able to improve your diet. Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink for a day. If there aren’t many fruits and vegetables in your diary, you’ll know what you need to do. Also, eating some lean proteins (fish or turkey for example) will help.
Remember, we are just talking about getting your exercise program started. The most important step that you take is the first one. In future columns, we will be talking about some other ideas that you might use in order to help strengthen your body, increase your energy and improve your life!
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