Hand up if you've ever gone a while -- a long while -- without working out. When you're dealing with work, family, a personal life and everything thing that goes along with it, it's easy to let your body get out of shape. Even if you don't necessarily gain a lot of weight, a lack of strength, endurance and flexibility could stop you from doing all you want to do. Get back on the horse slowly but surely with the right exercise plan to see a real difference in your body.
Before you head back into the gym, check with your health care provider to ensure that you're healthy enough for regular exercise. Those who are extremely overweight or have certain medical conditions may need different options than someone who is out of shape but otherwise in good health. Just run the idea of exercise by your doctor before you start a workout routine so you're sure it's safe.
Proper exercise plans contain three components essential to getting back into shape: cardio health, strength training and flexibility. When starting with cardio, choose a low-impact method of exercise that helps raise your heart rate slowly and steadily and avoid anything that exerts your body to a point where you feel dizzy or nauseous. Some of the best workout plans for beginners include water aerobics, walking, using an exercise bike or using an elliptical. As your aerobic health improves, you'll find that you're able to go for longer periods at higher speeds. Start with 30 minutes of cardio at least five days a week in conjunction with the other plan components.
Adding strength training to your workouts isn't just about getting ripped, but about building muscle tissue that helps rev up your metabolism. Plan for at least two days of 30 strength training sets per week by adding body weight exercises like squats, lunges, crunches and pushups to your routine. As you become stronger and more comfortable with strength training, you can add free weights or weight machines, provided you have someone to demonstrate each exercise and spot you to ensure you're doing them properly for safety and efficiency.
Flexibility is an often-overlooked component, but when you're out of shape, it pays to focus on flexibility and balance. It can help you get more out of your workouts with increased stability and less pain while helping you complete day-to-day living activities. Daily stretching helps improve your flexibility, as do special classes such as yoga, which are especially appropriate for those who need a low impact method of exercise. Plan for three 30-minute stretching or yoga sessions per week and you'll have a well-rounded plan of attack to get back into shape.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.