There are many ways to improve your fitness, but if you’re new to exercise or haven’t worked out in a while, it can be intimidating to start a program. It’s best to start with a few basic exercises and then add more as you become more comfortable and confident in your abilities.
Aerobic exercise — which challenges and benefits the heart and lungs — is best known for burning calories, improving mood and lowering blood pressure. Walking, swimming, dancing and cycling are all excellent aerobic exercises.
Strength training — which builds muscle mass by using resistance from weights, elastic bands, free weights or your own bodyweight — is essential for building lean muscles and reducing fat. Push-ups, curls, lunges and squats are all examples of strength training.
Flexibility and balance exercises, such as planks and crunches, help improve posture and reduce back pain and stiffness. They also help prevent falls as you age. Many different sports and activities encourage flexibility, including martial arts like karate, ballet, yoga and gymnastics. Stretching after exercise is also a good way to improve flexibility.
Core exercises, such as abdominal crunches and planks, strengthen the muscles in your stomach and back. Planks are an especially effective exercise because they engage your core without straining the back like situps can.
While it’s important to work all major muscle groups during exercise, focusing on the big five — legs, arms, shoulders, back and abdomen — will give you a great overall workout. Adding in some other exercises to target specific areas of the body can keep things interesting and challenge your body in new ways.
Before starting any exercise, it’s important to warm up with dynamic stretches that target the muscles you’ll be working and by doing a slow or lighter version of your planned activity. For example, before jogging, you can warm up by jogging slowly or running up and down stairs. Then, you should cool down with gentle stretches to return your heart rate to its resting level.
Moderate exercise boosts immunity, a recent study found. The exact mechanism isn’t entirely clear, but researchers believe that physical activity helps immune cells function more effectively.
The best part is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on gym memberships or expensive exercise equipment to get a great workout. Inexpensive resistance bands, for example, can be used to target nearly every muscle in the body and easily fit into a bag or suitcase so you don’t have to put your workout on hold when you travel.
Having an exercise buddy or taking an exercise class can help you stay motivated and consistent with your workouts. It’s also helpful to find an activity you enjoy, so you will look forward to your next workout. If you aren’t having fun, it will be difficult to stick with a fitness regimen for the long term. Try out a few different sports or activities to find one you love and stick with it. fitness exercises