General Fitness Guidelines

The goal of any fitness program is twofold: to improve or maintain cardio-vascular fitness (aerobic training) and to strengthen joints and muscles (strength training). As you work toward your personal fitness goals this spring, keep the following suggestions in mind:

• Start slowly.

• Stretch before and after your workout.

• Working out indoors doesn't have to be boring. There are lots of steps you can take to stay motivated.

Aerobic Training

The key to keeping aerobic training interesting is to cross train. You avoid the monotony of doing the same exercise every day and you have the benefit of exercising more than one muscle group. Cross training also allows some overused muscles to get much-needed rest, decreasing the risk of exercise-induced injuries. A good mix of indoor aerobic activities would be the rowing machine, stationary bike and treadmill.

Start with 10-15 minutes on each (gradually increasing to 20 minutes), 3-5 days a week. As the weather improves, your workout can become more sport specific. For example, if you're a runner, you'll want to gradually decrease your time on the rowing machine and stationary bike and increase your time on the treadmill until you're back to your normal (outdoor) distance. When you get back outside, you'll be ready to start where you left off.

Strength (Weight) Training

The first question many people ask about weight training is "How much weight should I use?" The rule of thumb is to start with whatever feels very light, slowly increasing weight from there. In fact, you should just go through the range of motion when starting (no weights at all), then gradually increase. Do not use heavy weights for the first couple of weeks.

Another method is to determine the heaviest weight you're capable of lifting, then work at about 65% of that weight. Your capacity will be unique to each exercise, so 65% of your capacity will be a different amount of weight depending on the particular exercise. Remember to start out easy you can always increase the weight next time. Your goal is to get stronger, not sore.

Strength (Weight) Training

• Work out on alternating days. Working out every day is counterproductive because your muscles are actually strengthening on the days you rest.

• Motions should be slow and controlled – never bouncing.

• Don't hold your breath! Aim for normal, relaxed breathing.

• Your goal should be 10-12 repetitions per set and 2-3 sets of each exercise.

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