If your New Year’s resolution is to begin exercising and get in shape, Tim Lesniewski, fitness manager at the LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center provides answers to frequently asked questions that can help you achieve your fitness goals in 2012.
Question: What’s the best way for me to get started?
Tim Lesniewski: If you haven’t worked out in a while, your first step should be to consult with your physician to make sure regular exercise is medically safe for you. If your doctor gives the ok, it’s a good idea to get a health/fitness assessment from a professional to determine the current shape you’re in and to help you develop a personalized exercise plan.
Question: How often should I exercise, and what should my routine consist of?
Tim Lesniewski: For most people, it’s best to work out three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes and include a combination of the following:
Cardiovascular exercise—Cardiovascular (or aerobic) exercise includes all forms of activity that get your heart beating faster for a sustainable period of time. Some good examples of this type of exercise include walking, jogging, cycling and swimming. The exercise should feel “somewhat hard” without causing you to become out of breath and unable to talk while exercising. Cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and helps control blood sugar and body weight.
Resistance exercise—Resistance exercises strengthen muscles, tendons, and even bones. Some examples include lifting free weights or body weight exercises such as push-ups.
Stretching—Stretching helps to increase the range of motion in your muscles, and should be performed a minimum of two to three days a week for all major muscle groups. Always warm-up before stretching with light to moderate activity. Flexibility exercises should be done to the point of feeling slight discomfort or tension in the muscle, but not pain. Each stretch should be held for 15 to 30 seconds and repeated a couple of times.
Question: How important is my technique when working out?
Tim Lesniewski: Learning how to exercise the right way is vital to the success of your program and to helping you avoid injury. Consider scheduling one or more sessions with a degreed and certified personal trainer who can demonstrate proper technique for the exercises selected for your routine.
Question: How can I make sure I stay with my exercise routine?
Tim Lesniewski: Staying focused on your goal, choosing exercises you enjoy, working out with a partner who can hold you accountable, and celebrating successes along the way are all key to maintaining your program throughout the year. The benefits that come from exercise—including improved health, fitness, mood and physical appearance—are also powerful motivators.
Many people fail in their New Year’s fitness resolutions because they set goals that are simply too difficult, according to Tim Lesniewski. “My advice is to establish goals that will put you on the right path for getting in shape in 2012, while still being achievable. For example, instead of starting out with a goal to work out for an hour five days a week, aim for 30 minutes three days a week and build from there. You’re more likely to stick to your new routine if your goals are realistic,” says Tim Lesniewski.
The LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center, located at 5401 Peach Street in Erie is dedicated to helping adults of all ages improve their fitness, health and quality of life. For more information about the center, its services and membership options, please call 814-868-7800 or visit www.lecomwellness.com.