We are all aware that exercise is one of the key ingredients to a healthy lifestyle. With countless fitness plans available, how is one able to determine which regime suits one best? We take the liberty to summarise a few general and common fitness programmes for you to choose from to meet your fitness goal. Note that the most effective plan is one which requires consistent adherence. To achieve overall physical fitness, experts recommend a combination of the following exercises:
Also commonly known as “cardio” exercises. It aims at strengthening one’s cardiovascular system by stimulating one’s heart rate and breathing. Any sort of activity that increases your heart rate and oxygen intake falls under this category. For example, jogging, hiking, and swimming. In order for one to reap the benefits of aerobic exercises – that is, to maintain good health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases – the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise 5 days a week; or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercises or a combination of moderately and vigorously intense aerobic exercise 3 days a week.
Nonetheless, for safety purposes, people with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or other health conditions should seek medical clearance before embarking on an aerobic training regime to avoid further complications. Additionally, should you develop unusual shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, dizziness, or any unusual discomforts, it is advisable that you stop immediately and consult your doctor soonest possible.
It is a form of anaerobic exercise (an intense physical activity of very short duration, fuelled by the energy sources within the contracting muscles and independent of the use of inhaled oxygen as an energy source ) that causes muscle contraction against an external resistance with the objective of increasing one’s muscle strength, mass, and tone. The external resistance can be from exercise equipment – like dumbbells or bottles of water – or using gravity and your own body weight. Resistance training increases your bone density and helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis. With an increase in your muscle-to-fat ratio, this will in turn boosts your metabolism and the results are a toned physique and better posture.
The following are some basic recommendations made by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):
You can get more information on resistance training here.
You should always opt to include flexibility training in your exercise sessions as flexibility is vital in conducting our daily activities. Flexibility exercises aid in improving your range of motion, reducing risk of injury, and act as a solid warm-up for more strenuous exercise. Activities recommended by the ACSM to train flexibility and balance are yoga and tai-chi. You should perform these stretching activities at least twice per week. Each stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds to the point of tightness. Remember: flexibility is built over time – so do not push yourself to the point of feeling discomfort or pain. Subsequently, repeat each stretch 2 to 4 times, making up to 60 seconds per stretch.
One of the recent fitness trends is HIIT which was ranked third amongst others according to a fitness trend survey conducted by ACSM for 2017. HIIT mainly involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise coupled with a short period of rest or recovery. HIIT is easily customised to suit people with any fitness level and can be incorporated in most activities like running, swimming, and cycling. If losing weight is your fitness goal, then your best bet is to give HIIT a try. This is because this type of training tends to burn more calories compared to moderately intense workout. HIIT creates an oxygen deficit in your body thus triggering your body to utilise more oxygen for recovery. This is referred to as EPOC, which stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Due to the vigorous nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC tends to be greater, resulting in a further addition of 6% to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure. It is not advisable to do HIIT back-to-back. You may start with once per week and adding a second when your body is ready for an extra challenge.
In terms of health benefits, HIIT has shown to improve cardiovascular health, cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity. Similarly it is advisable that people with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension or other health conditions should seek medical clearance prior to starting HIIT.
Circuit training is a combination of strength and aerobic exercises. Generally, it requires one to complete a specific number of exercises, usually 8 to 10 different exercises, whereby each exercise is performed for a number of repetitions over a fixed period of time, with little or no rest between each exercise. You may consider doing jumping jacks and high knees for aerobics; and squats, lunges, as well as push-ups for strength exercises. This form of training is a great way to spice up your workout routine, at the same time gaining the health benefits that both aerobic and strength exercises have to offer.
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