Above all else, efforts to be active should be in the name of health. Health related fitness can be added in many different ways to your current schedule. It does not have to be time-consuming or difficult--in fact, it is best if it can be included easily into your lifestyle.
You will find an overwhelming amount of information out there about all kinds of different exercise plans. Believe me, the one that works the best is the one that becomes part of your healthy lifestyle for the long haul. This means it has got to be realistic.
Many people burst out of the gate on January 1st, going to the gym 5-7 days a week. They are excited, hopeful about the implementation of health related fitness and its benefits. But then the weight loss doesn't seem to come fast enough and they become discouraged. And of course there is life to consider--it does tend to get in the way of such an aggressive exercise routine.
It is wise to plan on a moderate schedule of 3 days a week (if you are dying to go 5 days that particular week--go for it). This is a goal conservative enough to meet, which will make you feel encouraged by your success. Remembering that the goal here is health related fitness, you should plan for 30 minutes on each of these three days. This is typically thought to be cardio workouts, but you are welcome to switch this up. Whatever you do now (that is more than you were doing before) is providing health benefits. Research has shown that even one day a week provides some level of health advantage.
The type of exercise you choose can range from cardio workouts, to resistance and ab exercises, to yoga--there are limitless options. It is wise to have some variety to avoid boredom--and boredom's crazy cousin burnout. I have found people to be most likely to continue with exercise if they actually like it. This may mean doing something fun, like latin dance class. It may also mean doing something that benefits in other ways as well, such as taking a walk with your spouse or child and discussing the day.
What I can assure you is that if you choose to exercise too often in a way that is too hard, your exercise plan will not lost too long. You do not want this to become just another line on your to do list. You do not want to play the guilt game if you end up missing your exercise for the day. This will lead to a bad relationship with exercise--and that will result in a very good relationship with the couch. If you are skipping exercise because you dread it, you need to take a look at your current routine (too frequent? not fun?). Health and physical fitness can and should be a perfect fit into your life.
If you can have realistic expectations about it, being active can provide a range of benefits: improved mood, increased energy, potentially longevity, etc. But if you push yourself to hard, your newest workout plan will simply be a flash in the pan.
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