Which exercise is best for you?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
There are several factors to consider when determining a personal program of physical fitness. It's important to accurately assess your initial fitness level, set reasonable goals, choose an appropriate activity to reach those goals, and monitor your progress. A healthcare provider can help evaluate your overall health and fitness status, and identify reasonable objectives. Together, you may want to consider such factors as how many days per week to exercise, what your target heart rate should be during the workout, and how long each session should last. Then, to decide which exercise is best for you, you'll probably want to think through the following questions. First, what kinds of exercise do you enjoy? The best workout is usually one that's done consistently, for sustained periods at a time. It's generally easier to stay with an exercise program if you enjoy it. For some, this may mean being outdoors, being involved in a team, or having an instructor for added motivation. Second, how important is convenience? Some exercises like swimming, bicycling, and cross-country skiing require equipment, special facilities, or certain kinds of weather in order to be enjoyed regularly. Others, such as hiking, brisk walking, and running require a minimal amount of gear and can be done almost anywhere with very little advance planning. A third consideration is training. Are you willing to learn a new skill, or would you rather participate in something familiar? There are often a wide variety of exercise videos and classes available that help participants learn new skills. Finally, it's likely that you'll stay with an exercise program and see results if it includes variety. So you may want to alternate your workouts with more than one kind of activity. For example, if you run or walk, you may simply vary your route, speed, or distance from day to day. Or, cyclist and swimmers may fit in a brisk walk every few days instead. However you choose to set up your personal fitness program, you'll accomplish the best conditioning by choosing an enjoyable activity that raises your heart rate to it's target level three to five days per week, for 30 to 60 minutes each session. If you have questions about your fitness level, or need more information on specific exercises, contact a healthcare provider.

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