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These days, if you open any women's fitness magazine, you can't help but get excited about the idea of getting into shape. In the past, the idea of starting even a basic exercise program would be met with a series of moans and groans. However, in recent years, fitness programs have become a whole lot of fun. If you plan to start a beginner fitness program, there are a few things you should do in preparation.
First of all, if you are over the age of 45 and have been inactive, prior to beginning an exercise program, you should confer with your doctor. Your next step is to determine your goals. However, you want to make sure that they are realistic. Additionally, your goals will determine the type of program to begin.
For example, if weight loss is your primary goal for beginning an exercise program, you might be interested in a beginner running program or a beginner treadmill program. If you are significantly overweight, or if you have several injuries, you might prefer to start with a walking program or a beginner swim workout.
In general, aerobic workouts are best for weight control. You will want to begin by devoting three 20-minute sessions a week to your cardiovascular routine. Eventually, you should build up to 30 minutes for six days a week.
When you are first staring out in an aerobic exercise program, you will want to be aware of your heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate subtract your age from the number 220. Your target heart rate is anywhere between 60 to 80 percent of this number. There are two ways in which you can check your heart rate during exercise.
Some women's fitness magazines advertise a heart-rate monitor that you can strap around your chest. It gives you feedback that is displayed on a digital watch, which will tell you exactly what your heart rate is at any specific moment in your aerobic exercise session.
The second way to find your heart rate is by feeling either your carotid artery or your radial artery. The carotid artery can be found by gently placing your index finger on your neck, between the middle of your collar bone and jaw line. The radial artery pulse check is performed by placing your index and middle finger on the underside and thumb-side of your wrist.
The easiest way to take your heart rate is to take your pulse for six seconds and multiply that number by 10. There is one caveat. Many people find it difficult to find the right place to take their pulse. Also, in recent years, researchers have discovered that the 220 minus your age formula is not always accurate. As such, many women prefer to use a perceived exertion scale, which is rated 1 to 10. Ten is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest while carrying your groceries. One is the equivalent of lying on your coach watching the Lifetime Movie Network. Your perceived exertion should be between a level six and a level eight. Researchers have found that when testing people's perceived exertion, a level six to eight corresponded with a 60 to 80 percent target heart rate.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|