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How to Find the Right Exercise Program for You

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How to Find the Right Exercise Program for You

December 30, 2010

Written for Knee1 by Michelle Alford

At the beginning of every new year, people across the world resolve to get into shape, lose weight, or improve their health, but by February many will have given up on these resolutions. This new year, launch and maintain a year-long exercise regimen by finding a fun, sustainable exercise program that fits your lifestyle.

Consider these five tips when starting a new exercise program.

Start Slow

People tend to be overly ambitious when starting a new exercise program, often times over scheduling themselves or wanting to reach a level of expertise without working their way up. Don’t try to do too much too quickly. Start with a moderate, sustainable level of exercise and increase the length and difficulty level as you improve.

Make Exercise Convenient

Consider how you can make an exercise program easily fit into your current schedule. If you have to go too much out of your way to exercise, you’re less likely to continue your new exercise program. Look for a gym near your house or job, or consider exercise programs that you can do from home. Also consider how you can work more exercise into your daily routine—try walking or biking to work instead of driving and taking stairs instead of the elevator. Even little steps such as these can help you feel energized to continue exercising after work.

Find Exercises You Enjoy

Perhaps the most important step in choosing your exercise program is finding exercises that you consider fun, or at least tolerable. If you hate running, don’t make running a major part of your exercise program. Try out multiple exercises until you find the ones that you most enjoy.

Five great exercises for beginners, older exercisers, or those suffering or recovering from knee injuries are walking, bicycling, swimming, aerobic dancing, and yoga.

Walking burns the least calories, but it’s easily sustainable, gentler on the joints than running, and is simple to add to your daily routine. Make sure that you walk quickly; a casual stroll won’t help you lose weight or improve your health.

Bicycling is great for cardiovascular health and burns twice as many calories as walking. The smooth motion of bicycling doesn’t put too much stress on the knees or hips, but it can be uncomfortable for some knee injuries, so talk to a doctor if you suffer from any joint issues.

Swimming exercises the whole body and is perfect for people suffering from joint issues. It’s not as effective for weight loss as land exercises, but still provides a healthy workout and builds endurance and lung capacity.

Aerobic Dancing is increasing in popularity because it feels more like fun than exercising. This is a good choice for those who hate the repetition of typical exercises but still want to get a healthy workout. It burns fewer calories than swimming and bicycling, but many consider it more sustainable.

Yoga comes in many styles and can increase your strength, lower your stress levels, and benefit your cardiovascular health. It also burns as many calories as walking and aerobic dancing.

Seek Peer Support

Peer support can keep you moving when your willpower is running low. Many cities have local running, hiking, swimming, or biking groups that you can join, and gyms usually offer regular classes that you can take. Also consider partnering up with a friend who is serious about starting an exercise program. This can provide constant motivation.

Don’t Become Discouraged

It’s easy to become discouraged if you miss a day or if you aren’t progressing as quickly as you wished. You’re almost guaranteed to hit some roadblocks along the way, and this is what causes most people to quit.  It’s important not to give up. You will see progress the longer you continue your exercise program, and it’s okay to miss the occasional day.

Also remember that New Year’s isn’t the only time that you can start a new exercise program. If you have a false start this January, you can always try again in May. 

Discuss your favorite exercises in the Knee1 forums

Photo: Andy C

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