By Fitness Manager Matt Struemph
Another year has gone by and it’s time to turn the pessimism into optimism and the disappointment into opportunity. Of course, the subject is starting a new fitness program. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions have a health theme. Quitting smoking, losing weight, and beginning an exercise program are generally at the top of the list. You may be thinking, “My 2018 wasn’t that bad. I exercised, ate right, and feel great about it.” If this is the case, then pat yourself on the back and forge ahead. Keep in mind to consider different types of exercise regimens to keep things fresh. For many, however, 2018 was not what you would consider a health and fitness success or they may be contemplating the notion of an exercise program for the first time. There are some simple guidelines to remember when bringing fitness into (or back into) your lifestyle.
When designing a cardiovascular exercise routine, consider the FIT Principle. The FIT Principle summarizes these factors:
- F– Frequency of exercise refers to how many times per week planned exercise is performed.
- I– Intensity refers to how hard the work is during the exercise.
- T– Time refers to the amount of time each exercise session lasts.
Each one of these factors can be altered to fit an individual’s personal fitness goals. There are, however, some minimum guidelines to strive toward in each of the categories.
As far as frequency, one should have a minimum goal of participating in planned cardiovascular activity 3 times per week. With cardio exercise, 5-7 days per week is an ultimate goal. Intensity is always relative to an individual’s current fitness level.
An easy way to gauge intensity is by heart rate. Keeping your heart rate between 60% and 90% of your age predicted maximum heart rate is ideal. For beginners, the low end of that range is a good, initial goal. The following formula is used to calculate your predicted maximum heart rate: 220 - age = maximum heart rate. Simply multiply the maximum heart rate by .60 and .90 to find the heart rate range.
Time (or duration) of each exercise session is affected by individuals’ schedules, fitness levels, and personal goals. A minimum goal of 20 minutes per session is the first hurdle in the time category. This means that the heart rate should be elevated within the 60%-90% range for 20 minutes. It’s beneficial to include 2-3 minutes of warm-up and cool-down outside of that 20 minutes. More recently, studies have shown cardiovascular benefits performing shorter bouts (5-10 minutes) to accumulate the total time throughout the day.
Using the FIT Principle along with the basic guidelines above will set the foundation for a realistic and productive exercise routine.
Whether you are just starting an exercise program or have been at it for years, trying new things may help keep you in the game. There are those who have a set routine and never get bored. Others find it difficult to stay interested, especially when visual results are not apparent after a short time. Exercising just for the health of it is not enough for many, including yours truly. For those looking for variety to satisfy their vanity, there is a whole industry making staying active attainable. There are group exercise classes ranging from mentally relaxing, but physically challenging yoga and Pilates, to up tempo fitness classes. Some classes focus on choreographed routines, as in a step class or Zumba. If that is not for you, group classes led by a “drill sergeant” with simple orders will keep you moving. The answer lies in finding activities that can keep your interest. Motivation to participate in those activities, however, must come from within. Use 2019 as an opportunity to challenge and motivate yourself to become a healthier you.