Starting a Fitness Program

         Write your goals down and keep an activity log to make sure your health and fitness program stays on track. Remember that you should always consult a doctor before starting any new fitness program. The American College of Sports Medicine has established the following guidelines for a safe and productive weekly program:

Cardiovascular Goals

            For general health improvement, adults should engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. The 30 minutes can be broken up into smaller segments throughout the day. 

For fitness training improvements, do 3 to 5 continuous cardiovascular training workouts per week at an intensity of 60% to 90% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your estimated heart rate maximum, simply subtract your age from 220. Beginning exercisers should multiply this number by 60% to 70%. Advanced exercisers should multiply this number by 70% to 90%.

Strength Training and Flexibility

            Train each major muscle group 2 to 3 times per week, a minimum of one set of 8 to 13 repetitions. Lightly stretch the muscle groups used during your activity for 8 to 12 seconds prior to exercise, and all major muscle groups for 20 seconds or longer post-exercise.

Charting Your Program

            Once you have decided on your overall fitness goal and your weekly workout plan, you need to log it, to make sure that you are sticking to the program. Your fitness chart should also include some reminders of where you started and how far you have come.


            For example, if your goal is weight loss, jot down your weekly weight or measurements. If you're trying to improve your muscle tone, take some pictures or make some notes to size up what is happening over the designated training period.

            Don't be discouraged if you miss an intended workout or have a bad week. Instead, work harder the following week. And keep in mind that staying fit is a lifelong process that takes place in small, daily steps.


Tips for Forming an Exercise Habit

      Find a friend to work out with; you will help keep each other motivated.

     Keep fitness and healthy-eating articles, magazines and books around for down time reading.

     Have at least one option for exercise inside your home to use when the weather or your schedule does not permit

     you to get outside for a workout.

     Try working out at different times of the day. Write down how you feel emotionally and physically before the activity,

       immediately after and several hours later.

      Put exercise at the top of your to do list.