With obesity rates and obesity-related ailments on the rise, engaging in regular physical activity is essential to warding off diseases and weight gain. In the August 2007 issue of the journal “Circulation,” researchers from the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine recommended that women and men engage in cardiovascular activity at least five days per week and strength training a minimum of two days per week. Use these guidelines when establishing a weekly exercise plan.
Monday -- Cardio
Begin the week by performing cardiovascular activity. You may select from a wide variety of exercises based on your desired intensity level. The recommendation outlined by AHA and ACSM suggests performing 30 minutes of moderately-intense or 20 minutes of vigorously-intense activity. Examples of moderately-intense activity include brisk walking, water aerobics and riding a stationary bike with little-to-no resistance. Vigorously intense activities may include jogging, playing high-activity sports such as tennis or soccer as well as riding a stationary bike with added resistance. The most important rule in selecting an activity is choosing one you truly enjoy.
Tuesday -- Strength Training
Engage in full-body strength training on Tuesday. Strength training not only promotes muscle growth, but aids in weight loss, increases bone mineral density and reducing pain associated with arthritis. Weightlifting exercises may be executed using weight machines, free weights such as barbells or dumbbells, resistance bands or your own body weight. It is possible to effectively fatigue muscle groups at home or at the gym. Although there are many weightlifting programs, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing between eight and 10 individual exercises that isolate each major muscle group. Perform one set of each exercise and lift the weight for eight to 12 repetitions. Choose a weight that will fully exhaust your muscles by the last repetition.
Wednesday -- Cardio
The third day of your weekly exercise plan involves performing cardiovascular activity. To keep from getting bored or burned out, select a different activity than what you did on Monday. For example, if you went jogging on Monday, ride a bicycle or engage in step aerobics on this day. Before increasing the intensity level of any cardiovascular exercise, warm up for five to 15 minutes. Likewise, cool down for five to 15 minutes at the end of the exercise.
Thursday -- Weightlifting
Today is the second weightlifting day out of the week. You may follow the same routine as on Tuesday or you may create a new routine with different exercises. Try switching up exercises by engaging in different modes of weightlifting. For example, perform a set of dumbbell bench presses followed by a set of pushups to fatigue the chest muscles.
Friday -- Cardio
Perform the recommended minutes of cardiovascular activity. Unlike popular theory, do not perform cardiovascular activity in the morning without eating. Doing so may result in a lack of energy or lightheadedness, says MayoClinic.com. Consume 75 to 100 grams of complex carbohydrates three hours before starting an aerobic exercise.
Saturday -- HIIT
This is the last cardiovascular activity day of the week. On Saturday, attempt a more challenging activity such as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. Using any mode of aerobic activity, such as jogging, bicycling or swimming, warm up the body for five minutes, then increase the intensity level to a seven out of 10, with 10 being the highest level of exertion. Hold this intensity level for 60 seconds and reduce your pace to an intensity level of five out of 10 for two minutes. Repeat a total of nine intervals, which include the five minute warmup and cool-down intervals.
- Circulation: Physical Activity and Public Health: Updated Recommendation for Adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- ACSM Health & Fitness Journal: ACSM Strength Training Guidelines: Role in Body Composition and Health Enhancement
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
- Straightforward Fitness: ACSM Cardio Guidelines
- MayoClinic.com: Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts
- American Fitness Professionals & Associates: Endurance Nutrition: How and What to Eat Before, During and After Exercise? Pre-Event Meal Warning: Eat 3 Hours Before Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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