balanced exercise

Balanced exercise: How to get started

Life is busy. Work, family, play – it’s no wonder exercise often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

But research shows that consistent exercise is one of the best ways to prevent and treat chronic disease. So to continue participating in and enjoying all aspects of life, incorporating a balance of different exercises into your lifestyle is vital.

However, trying to determine how much time and what type of exercise to focus on whether it be aerobic, strength, or mobility, can be a challenge.

Determine the balance that’s right for you

When deciding what to do and how long to do it, consider three things: goals, health issues and potential barriers.

First, determine your exercise goals and whether they are short term (e.g., less than a year) or long term. Goals help focus an exercise routine and provide a framework on which to build an appropriate program. They’re typically linked to performance, such as running a faster 10-km race, or health and lifestyle, such as maintaining a garden to be proud of.

Next, take into consideration any health issues you may have. Exercise, when programmed properly, is an effective way to help control chronic disease. An individual with hypertension should take a different approach to exercise than someone with osteoporosis. Your unique health status can dictate which exercises are part of your program and the length of time and intensity involved.

Lastly, address any foreseeable barriers to the success of a routine, e.g., time, access to equipment and motivation. Plan for and around barriers.

So what does a balanced exercise program look like?

Consider Gary, a 65-year-old male diagnosed with hypertension and a previous shoulder injury that causes decreased mobility when he reaches overhead. His current exercise regime is a brisk 40-minute walk three times a week and static stretches before golfing.

Gary’s short-term goals are to increase shoulder mobility and manage his blood pressure through exercise. His long-term goals are to recreationally golf for at least 15 more years and keep up with his active four-year-old grandson. When determining what will work for him, Gary also needs to consider that his recent retirement is actually a potential barrier since he now finds it more difficult to accomplish tasks without a set schedule.

To address his short-term goals…

A shoulder mobility program can be developed that requires minimal equipment and can be done while completing other activities, such as watching TV. This will make it simple to incorporate into Gary’s lifestyle. Instead of static stretches before golf, some dynamic shoulder mobility exercises will increase blood flow to the area and better prepare his arms for movement. To manage blood pressure, Gary can either add an additional day of walking or add 10 minutes onto each walk to achieve 150 total aerobic exercise minutes per week, the minimum suggested to help control chronic disease. Additionally, he could include a few hills when walking for increased intensity.

To address his long-term goals…

Gary can add two resistance-training sessions a week that focus on building total body strength with a few targeted exercises to benefit his golf game. It’s recommended that after six to eight weeks, resistance-training programs be updated as he becomes proficient in each movement.

To address his potential barriers…

He can mark exercise sessions in his calendar as if they’re appointments to help with accountability and creating a routine. He can also work towards completing exercise sessions in the morning, as this prevents putting sessions off until later in the day when they’re less likely to be completed.

Looking for support in narrowing down goals, creating an exercise program to meet your needs or brainstorming ways to get past barriers? Make an appointment with your Copeman kinesiologist to ensure you have the right balance in your fitness regime.