November 28, 2004

Getting the Most Out of Your Workout

Fitness experts at the American Council on Exercise offer these tips for a safe and effective workout:

1. Research shows that even ten minutes of exercise can provide important health benefits. Not having a full hour to exercise is no reason to skip your workout.

2. Most people tend to focus on certain muscles, such as the abdominale or biceps. To achieve a strong, balanced body, you have to train all muscle groups.

3. Never changing your workout can lead to boredom, plateaus and injury. Swimming, walking, bicycling, and using elliptical machines are all good choices.

4. Unrealistic and vague goals are among the leading causes of exercise dropout. The key is to establish a training goal that is specific and appropriate for your fitness and skill levels-a bit challenging but not overly difficult.

5. Before every exercise session, start with a five- to 10- minute warm-up. Afterwards, take a few minutes to lower your heart rate and stretch your muscles. This improves flexibility and also helps prepare the body for your next workout.

6. Do the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation while exercising, you are probably within the safe zone of 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (max HR). Using a heart-rate monitor will help keep a close watch on your actual heart rate. Monitors with straps are most accurate, and many will determine your max HR automatically.

Copyright Benjamin Franklin Literary and Medical Society Oct 2004