We've all been there – you run for the bus and get "unusually" breathless, or you sit down to lunch and realise there's an "extra" fold of skin hanging over your belt. A largely sedentary lifestyle coupled with a desk-bound job do a lot to contribute to a person's lack of fitness. The first panicky response a person would have is to sign up for a gym membership or go on a strict diet. Both resolutions will crash and burn due to lack of planning. It's far better to formulate a fitness plan that works instead of going to extremes.
Goals – Keep Your Eye on the Prize
First, you need to identify why you want to get fit. Do you want to fit into that pair of jeans again? A specific deadline for your fitness goal, such as "I will drop ten kilos and fit into that bikini by summer", also serves as encouragement to start exercising. A specific goal, whether or not it's realistic or whether you manage to achieve it on deadline allows you to visualize and implement the steps you need to accomplish it.
Plan – How Will You Achieve the Goal
Being "fit" consists of having strength, speed, aerobic endurance, flexibility and agility. Exercise that emphasises aerobic endurance helps you slim down while strength-oriented training will build muscle and bulk. Weight lifting does not necessarily result in a bull neck and hulking shoulders. It's advisable to carry out more repetitions while lifting lighter weights in order to develop strength. In turn, increased muscular strength builds up the heart and lungs as well.
Aerobic exercise should always be included in any fitness plan. It could involve walking, cycling or running / jogging for 20-60 minutes daily. Rowing is an aerobic exercise that is exceptionally attractive because workouts are low impact. Sustained aerobic activity burns fat, builds muscle and, of course, builds up the cardiovascular system.
Flexibility is attained by the stretches you carry out at the beginning and end of each exercise session. Light stretching increases your pulse rate before exercise while also allowing you to ease back down from an intense workout. A fitness plan should incorporate elements that build strength, endurance and flexibility in order to be successful. If you exercise at a gym, do not be afraid to try out different machines and classes to find what works best for you.
Intensity and Frequency – Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Ease into the new routine before attempting to move on to a more high impact version if you're committing to a fitness plan for the first time, or if it's been a long time since you exercised regularly.
It's recommended to get moderately intense aerobic exercise of 30 minutes 'duration daily or vigorously intense aerobic exercise of 20 minutes' duration three days a week. Most people find the former more achievable as it involves exertion that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat while still being able to carry on a conversation at the same time.
Rather than straining to run nonstop for 30 minutes, you can make it easier for yourself by alternately running and walking for the same length of time. In that manner, you achieve the exercise goal while not subjecting yourself to undue stress.
Rest is an important aspect of getting in shape. Aerobic exercise can be carried out every day, but a day of complete rest is required to allow your muscles to recover after weight training. Do not be ashamed to take the day off if you're feeling especially sore or tired either.
A fitness plan is not something you buy and leave on a shelf, it's a habit and lifestyle that has to be cultivated and maintained. Before starting a fitness regime though, it's important to go for a physical examination to identify any underlying medical conditions or illnesses. An examination is especially important if you have heart problems, diabetes, have been sedentary for more than a year, are over 65 and do not currently exercise, are pregnant or have a medical condition or injury or are recovering from one.