If you want a stronger heart, a leaner body, lower cholesterol, improved sleep, nothing beats exercise. You can strengthen your entire cardiovascular system – heart, lungs and blood vessels – through regular activities. A complete exercise program always includes both weight training and aerobic activity. Weight training strengthens the muscles of the body while aerobic activity conditions the cardiovascular system and burns calories. Both types of training will give you all the benefits of a total body workout.
Always warm up and cool down. If you decide to jog at a moderate intensity for 15 to 45 minutes the best warm up is a very slow jog for about five minutes. And the best cool down is a five-minute fast walk. Some people like to finish their warm up by stretching the muscles that will be used in the chosen activity. To date, there is conflicting research as to whether warm up stretching helps prevent muscular injuries. However, there is no controversy over cool down stretching. To maintain or increase your flexibility, your muscles must be stretched after every workout. After your workout, your muscles are warm and fatigued and in an ideal state for stretching.
Follow the rules of safe stretching.
- Never stretch cold muscles. Warm up or gently exercise first, then stretch
- Hold the position. Do not bounce. A stretch should last 8 to 20 seconds.
- Never stretch to the point of discomfort. If you feel you could hold the stretch indefinitely without pain, then you are not over stretching.
Progress cautiously. In the early stages of a program, you should try to increase the length of your workouts by no more than a couple of minutes at a time.
If it hurts, do not do it. If you are in pain your body is telling you something is wrong. Slow down or seek the advice of a medical or fitness professional.
Beware of over-training. When overdone, exercise can jeopardize your health and fitness. If you feel fatigued, lethargic, irritable, heavy-legged, lose your appetite or develop sleep problems, you need to slow down. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you have had enough.