Beginning Making progress Exercise Maintaining

Beginning Making progress Exercise Maintaining

Time since beginning an exercise program (in weeks) figure 2.5 Progression of an exercise program. This figure shows how the amount of overload is increased gradually over time in a walking and running program, Regardless of the activity chosen, it is important that an exercise program begin slowly and progress gradually, Once you achieve the desired level of fitness, you can maintain it by exercising three-five days a week, source: Progression data from American College of Sports Medicine, 2009, ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, stretching exercises. To improve performance in a particular sport, practice that sport or its movements.

Train Regularly Consistency is the key to improving fitness. Fitness improvements are lost if too much time passes between exercise sessions.

Start Slowly, and Get in Shape Gradually As Figure 2.5 shows, an exercise program can be divided into three phases:

• Beginning phase. The body adjusts to the new type and level of activity.

• Progress phase. Fitness increases.

• Maintenance phase. The targeted level of fitness is sustained over the long term.

When beginning a program, start slowly to give your body time to adapt to the stress of exercise. Choose activities carefully according to your fitness status. If you have been sedentary or are overweight, try an activity such as walking or swimming that won’t jar the body or strain the joints.

As you progress, increase duration and frequency before increasing intensity. If you train too much or too intensely, you are more likely to suffer injuries or become overtrained, a condition characterized by lack of energy, aching muscles and joints, and decreased physical performance. Injuries and overtraining slow down an exercise program and impede motivation. The goal is not to get in shape as quickly as possible but to gradually become and then remain physically fit.

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Warm Up before Exercise Warming up can decrease your chances of injury by helping your body gradually progress from rest to activity. A good warm-up can increase muscle temperature, reduce joint stiffness, bathe the joint surfaces in lubricating fluid, and increase blood flow to the muscles, including the heart. Some studies suggest that warming up may also enhance muscle metabolism and mentally prepare you for a workout.

A warm-up should include low-intensity, whole-body movements similar to those used in the activity. For example, runners may walk and jog slowly prior to running at full speed. A tennis player might hit forehands and backhands at a low intensity before playing a vigorous set of tennis. A warm-up is not the same as a stretching workout. For safety and effectiveness, it is best to stretch after an endurance or strength training workout, when muscles are warm and not as part of a warm-up. (Appropriate and effective warmups are discussed in greater detail in Chapters 3-5.)

Cool Down after Exercise During exercise, as much as 90% of circulating blood is directed to the muscles and skin, up from as little as 20% during rest. If you suddenly stop moving after exercise, the amount of blood returning to your heart and brain may be insufficient, and you may experience dizziness, a drop in blood pressure, or other problems. Cooling down at the end of a workout helps safely restore circulation to its normal resting condition. So, after you exercise, cool down before you sit or lie down or jump into the shower. Cool down by continuing to move at a slow pace walking for 5-10 minutes, for example, as your heart and breathing rate and blood pressure slowly return to normal. At the end of the cool-down period, do stretching exercises while your muscles are still warm. Cool down longer after intense exercise sessions.

Exercise Safely Physical activity can cause injury or even death if you don’t consider safety. For example, you should always:

• Wear a helmet when biking, skiing, or rock climbing.

• Wear eye protection when playing racquetball or squash.

• Wear bright clothing when exercising on a public street.

Overtraining A condition caused by training too much or too intensely, characterized by lack of energy, decreased physical performance, and aching muscles and joints,

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