Exercise: How to Get Going

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Is joining a gym, buying expensive workout clothes, and climbing onto a machine the only way to get fit? No way. Whatever gets you up and moving will get you on the right track. On April 1, 2004, we talked about fitness in the real world, and learned about fun, inexpensive options with exercise guru Pamela Santin.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Welcome Pam. What is the most important thing to consider when starting an exercise program?

The most important thing, when starting, is your readiness to start. If you have any medical problems at all you need medical clearance before you start, but for almost all people exercise is appropriate and beneficial, and everyone can start an exercise program. Really, the most important thing in starting is finding an activity you will do on a consistent basis.

So an exercise program doesn't have to involve a gym membership or expensive equipment to be of value?

Absolutely correct. If you think of exercise as moving your large muscles you can do it with no equipment; open your front door and start walking and you're a regular exerciser. Gyms are great if you'll use them and they have the kind of equipment you want to use, but many people get gym memberships and don't use them. I recommend getting a two-week trial membership at a gym to make sure you're going to be happy at that facility.

"For people working, I recommend taking a 15 or 20 minute walking break at lunch. It's a perfect way to fit in exercise and it totally recharges your batteries for the afternoon."

How much walking and at what pace does it take to have a positive benefit?

The Surgeon General's guideline is 30 minutes of moderate exercise, preferably on all days of the week. When we look at walking, the same rules apply; we're looking at 30 minutes of walking. Now that's not very much, but if you can't fit in 30 minutes, how about 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at dinnertime, or three 10-minute chunks of exercise? It all adds up the same and the benefits are the same.

For people working, I recommend taking a 15 or 20 minute walking break at lunch. It's a perfect way to fit in exercise and it totally recharges your batteries for the afternoon.

I have been working out at a gym for over two years. I have mixed up my routines but I still can't find the right balance of cardio activity vs. muscle conditioning or yoga. What do you suggest?

First off, congratulations; two years in the gym, and you're combining aerobic, strength training, and flexibility, which is perfect. On the other hand, you don't want to spend your life in the gym trying to fit in all those components. How much to do?

Aerobic exercise, the cardiovascular portion, should be the foundation of your exercise program. So, if you're doing 30 to 45 minutes of aerobics at the gym, supplement that with strength training every other day. Strength training doesn't have to take a long time; you can get a good strength training workout in 20 minutes.

Yoga is fantastic for flexibility and for relaxation. You certainly can do yoga every day of the week, if you have time, because you'll see benefits every day of the week. If you find you don't have time, then three days a week is great.

The other thing you may want to think of, if you've been doing the same workout for two years, is that it may be time to fine tune that workout. If there's a personal trainer or exercise physiologist ask them to walk through your strength training routine with you, because you're spending the time and effort and you want to get the maximum results.

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