The guidelines for exercise from the American College of Sports Medicine is to build up to 20-60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity,3-5 times a week, at 60-90% of max heart rate, and 2-3 days of resistance training. Resistance training should be one set of 8-10 exercises that condition the major muscle groups, 2-3 days per week, 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. 10-15 repetitions may be more appropriate for older and more frail persons (approximately 50-60 yr of age and above). Multiple-set regimens may provide greater benefits if time allows.
One thing to do is identify your goals. If you're interested in building up stamina, then aerobic activity (cardio) will work. If you want strength, then it's resistance exercise. I suggest doing both if you can. For cardio you could walk, bike, swim, elliptical, or any other activity that gets your heart thumping. You can start with just 10 minutes if you like. I like the 5-minutes out, 5-minutes back plan. Just like it sounds, you walk out for 5 minutes, turn around, and walk back. That's it. 10 minutes of walking, and off you go about your day. If you feel ambitious you can do 7.5 or even 10 minutes out and back, and add some abdominal crunches when you finish.
For resistance exercise I suggest an investment in exercise tubing. Tubing is inexpensive and versatile (you can do lots of exercises withthem, even in a chair), and a great way to get started with resistance exercise. You can start with a set of three for about $20. They come in colors to denote the tension. If you order them make sure to order the strap that allows you to attach the tube to a door (this is important), and if you want to work your legs, ask for leg straps.
Some excellent WebMD resources for starting exercise arehere:
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/tc/fitness-overview (This article has superb fitness resources at the end about getting started)
The government also does a great job with physical activity resources. You can start here:
This answer should not be considered medical advice...This answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.
Archived: March 20, 2014
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