Fitness Program For Weight Loss – While three weight loss medications have been approved by the FDA, exercise and a healthy diet remain the most effective way to lose unwanted weight. A proper fitness program should feature both strengths training to build muscle and cardiovascular exercise to burn excess calories. Still, starting a good fitness program is the hardest step for many Americans struggling with obesity.
1. Are You Healthy Enough for Exercise?
The first step is to consult your doctor and make sure you’re healthy enough for moderate to intense physical activity. If your doctor believes you have limitations, ask for modifications you can make to typical workouts. If you’ve had a previous injury, it’s also a good idea to talk to a physical therapist to help you create goals and set up a fitness routine you can safely follow. According to Cedric Bryant of the American Council on Exercise, anyone with serious health problems, men over 45 and women over 55 should be cleared for exercise by their doctor before beginning a fitness plan.
2. Recommended Amount of Exercise
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise should be done 5 days a week for heart health. This includes walking, swimming, biking or even yard work. According to Rita Redberg, the chairwoman of the association’s Choose to Move program, don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you can get this level of activity, however. She explains that even 5 or 10 minutes of exercise daily is enough to provide benefits and aid in weight loss.
If you’re unsure if you’re exercise is intense enough, check your heart rate during your workout and make sure it’s in the target range. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a target heart rate between 50 and 70% of your maximum heart rate for moderately intense workouts. Your maximum heart rate is based on your age. To determine this number, subtract your age from 220.
3. Do a Fitness Assessment
If you don’t know exactly what shape you’re in, a quick assessment of your fitness scores can help you set new goals and determine how well you’re doing on your fitness plan. To get your baseline scores, measure the following:
- How long does it take you to walk 1.6 kilometers/1 miles?
- How many push-ups can you do at once without stopping?
- What is your pulse rate before and after walking 1.6 kilometers/1 miles?
- What is your waist circumference? Measure around your waist just above your hip bone.
- What is your BMI?
4. Make Fitness Goals
For an effective workout plan, set up goals for yourself and determine why you want to work out, whether you want to train for a marathon, lose 10 pounds or work out 5 days per week. Your goals should be very clear and realistic. Setting unrealistic goals — like losing 40 pounds in one month — will set you up for disappointment and may cause you to abandon exercise when they can’t be reached. It’s important to begin your routine slowly, as working out very hard in the beginning won’t produce faster results, only increase your chances for fatigue or injury. Writing down your fitness goals and posted them somewhere you see them every day can help you remain motivated, especially in the beginning.
5. Use Cross-Training for Improved Success
Cross-training, or incorporating different types of activities into your workout, will keep you from getting bored while also reducing the risk of injury from overworking one particular muscle group. Alternate your workouts to use different parts of your body, including strength training, swimming and running.
For weight loss, your workouts should include aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate, such as running or walking; strength training to improve muscle mass, and flexibility exercises to improve your range of motion and decrease strain on your joints.
6. Recovery Time is Important
Many people just starting a fitness program make the mistake of working out too hard or too often, only to abandon their routine when they become injured or too tired. Give yourself one day of active rest each week to let your muscles recover. Active rest means you still are still working out, just at less intensity to give your body and mind a chance to recover. An active recovery workout may be light yoga or a quick walk around the block.
7. Consider a Personal Trainer
If you’re just starting out, try scheduling 3 or 4 sessions with a personal trainer at your local gym to get important advice about reaching your personal goals. You can also learn effective techniques to help you lose weight or increase muscle. Many personal trainers can also recommend ways to get more exercise during daily life, such as doing sit-ups or house cleaning while the television is on or biking to work. A trainer can also provide you with an important support system to help you stay motivated.
8. Keep a Log
Once you’ve created your workout plan, write it down along with your baseline fitness scores. Try buying a fitness journal to keep track of your daily or weekly progress, including your weight, improved running time, stamina and other important bits of information that will help you remain motivated and see your progress as it happens.
9. Sample Fitness Plan
If you aren’t sure where to begin, here’s a look at a sample fitness program that uses a variety of exercises and active recovery workouts for weight loss.
- Monday: 40 minutes of jogging
- Tuesday: 30 minutes of strength training
- Wednesday: 40 minutes of jogging
- Thursday: 20 minutes of biking followed by 20 minutes of push-ups and sit-ups
- Friday: Stretching exercises and a 30-minute yoga class
- Saturday: 40 minutes of jogging
- Sunday: 30 minutes of swimming