What Makes a Good Exercise Program?

A well-designed fitness program should incorporate multiple types of training, including cardio, strength, flexibility, balance, and agility. By focusing on multiple aspects of fitness, you can boost your level of health and fitness, reduce the likelihood of injury, and keep your level of motivation high. Jim Borden, a personal trainer with Fitness Together, a gym located in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, takes a look at each area:Cardio – Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is any type of activity that increases the work of the heart and lungs. Walking, running, bike riding, and swimming are all examples of this type of exercise.  According to the Physical Activity Guidelines issued by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA), adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio (similar to a brisk walk), five days a week, or vigorously intense cardio (rapid breathing and an increase in heart rate) 20 minutes a day, three days a week.Strength – Strength training, also known as resistance training, are any activities designed to strengthen your muscles. Resistance can come in many forms – weights, resistance bands and tubing, even cans of soup. The ACSM and AHA guidelines for strength training recommend a minimum of two days per week (nonconsecutive), incorporating 8 to 10 exercises that involve all major muscle groups. Each exercise should include resistance that allows you to do the exercise for 8 to 12 repetitions.Flexibility – Often referred to as stretching, flexibility is often an overlooked part of many fitness programs. Flexibility could also include activities such as Tai Chi, yoga, or Pilates. There are two basic types of stretching – dynamic and static. Static stretching is when you take a muscle to the point of tension and hold it there for a minimum of 20 seconds. Dynamic stretching involves moving a joint through its full range of available motion.Balance – Balance activities could include exercising while standing on one leg, and using a stability ball or a BOSU ball. Even when not exercising, you can work on your balance by standing on one leg and keeping your eyes closed or simply sitting on a stability ball at your desk. Balance exercises can be incorporated into your normal exercise routine or done separately.Agility – Agility refers to the ability to start, stop, and change direction quickly, while maintaining proper balance. Research has shown that agility training can reduce falls in the elderly by almost 50%.  Examples of agility exercises include hopping in multiple directions, having a catch while on a BOSU ball, or kicking a soccer ball back and forth. Agility drills can be easily incorporated into your exercise routine, and are a nice way to add some variety into your workouts.As you can see, there is more than just cardio and strength training in a well-designed fitness program. Before you start on such a program, be sure you have your doctor’s approval. And if you are not sure how to begin, it is worth using a personal trainer to ensure you are using proper form and are aware of the safety precautions necessary when working out. The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

Jim Borden is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a Expert Guide or more Health Care articles at Yodle Consumer Guide. What Makes a Good Exercise Program?

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