Choosing the Right Workout for You
When choosing a workout, the type of workout that fits you depends on three important factors: (1) Physical limitation, (2) specific goals, and (3) personal interest.
Physical Limitation and Workouts
Choosing a Workout Based on Health Conditions
Someone with a heart condition should not suddenly take up running. Someone with knee problems needs to steer away from high-impact cardio or routines that put a lot of stress on the knee joints. Those with high blood pressure should not lift heavy weights. There are other health issues that have an impact on the workout that is right for you. This is why it is important to see your doctor and discuss fitness routines with him or her.
Choosing a Workout Based on Fitness Level
If you have not been exercising on a regular basis or have been out of it for a while, you need to pick a routine you can get into gradually. Walking is a great way to get started because you can always increase your speed and distance by challenging yourself a little more every day. It is also easier to go from brisk walking to jogging and then to running than it is to jump in and start running every day when all you have done is walk to and from the mailbox and your car for years on end.
If you are a fairly active person and just want to make some changes, challenge yourself with a new routine or one that you can substitute with once or twice a week. For example, if you walk 3 or 4 miles every day, you might want to start jogging – or rock climbing may be a viable option.
Yoga is a workout routine that can be eased into – take a beginning yoga class or choose a yoga DVD for beginners.
If you do cardio on a regular basis, throw in some calisthenics or do some Pilates two or three times a week in addition to your cardio. This will increase your fitness level while adding some variety.
Choosing a Workout to Meet Your Goals
If your goal is to lose weight and/or increase cardiovascular health, cardio workouts are the best types of workouts for you. These include activities that raise your heart rate and keep it there for an extended period of time. Brisk walking, jogging, running, biking, in-line skating, kickboxing, stair climbing, stepping and aerobic dance workouts are all good examples of cardio routines – and some of these are also great muscle strengtheners. Anyone of these routines can be turned into an HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout.
If your goal is to put on muscle, choose a workout that builds muscle without burning too many calories. Usually this involves weight training, although calisthenics that involve squatting and push-ups are also good for building muscle. Wall or mountain climbing adds muscle while also working out the cardiovascular system.
Yoga is great for tightening muscles, increasing flexibility, developing muscular awareness and improving blood and oxygen flow in the body. “Power yoga” does all of the above, but is also a great cardio workout. Those with back problems will often find that a yoga routine is particularly great for strengthening and elongating the spine.
Pilates will increase muscle and strengthen the core of the body. Simply tightening and putting on muscle can result in a loss of inches and even cause an increase in metabolism.
See two great, instructional videos on Yoga and Pilates, below.
Are you just looking for a way to be more active without the “routine”? Baseball, tennis, volleyball, soccer... all of these are good ways to push your body, though they are not necessarily good as a formal workout. Those who play team sports on a regular basis find that adding cardio and strengthening workouts enhances their performance in team sports.
Yoga - for Beginners
OM Yoga - Hatha Yoga with CD and Cards
10 Minute Winsor Pilates Workout
Full Winsor Pilates Workouts
Choosing a Workout Based on Personal Interest
What do you enjoy doing? If activity itself is not enjoyable for you, you need to discover one that you can enjoy. To do this, choose and try out one workout at a time until you find one or two you consider pleasant, if not completely enjoyable.
If you are easily bored, try doing two or three different activities. For instance, you might power walk on Monday, take a kickboxing class on Tuesday, do Yoga on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, swim on Thursday and take a leisurely one hour stroll every Sunday. Doing several activities will not only increase your fitness level, it will keep you interested. If you don’t feel like doing Yoga one week, give Tai Chi or stair climbing a try. The point is to STAY interested.
I did not include “time” as a factor in choosing a workout because in my opinion, if you cannot find the time to work out, then you are way too busy – and that in itself is not good for your physical, mental and emotional health. Working out requires taking time to focus on yourself and you aren’t a selfish person for taking half an hour to an hour a day to keep your body healthy. In fact, exercise is not just a good physical cure. Studies have proven it is beneficial to your mental and emotional health!
Maybe you have very little family-time as it is. If that is the case, why not choose a workout routine, even if it is only a twice a week routine—that includes the entire family? Bike riding and swimming are good examples. Hiking is a great way to get the family together and encourage life-long fitness, too!