Creating a personalized exercise program to promote physical well-being
When you think of your overall well-being, you traditionally think of your physical well-being. And for good reason — if you’re suffering physically, it’s hard to focus on anything else.
There are many benefits that come with being physically fit, including:
- Improved heart function
- Slowed aging
- Stronger bones and joints
- Increased immune response
- Increased quality of sleep
Your physical well-being is actually made up of three primary areas: exercise, food, and sleep. As you work towards improving your physical well-being, don’t try to tackle all of these areas at once with huge sweeping changes. You will have more success if you start small and make gradual alterations — small steps are more doable and can have a big payoff.
Think FITT to get fit
Let’s start with exercise. If you think of exercise as a monotonous chore, then you may not be doing it right. According to The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), in order to be successful, an exercise routine should include variety. Also, here’s the good news, you don’t have to exercise for extended periods of time to reap the benefits — just remember the FITT acronym. Let’s break it down:
- Frequency: Aim to exercise three times per week or more.
- Intensity: Reach and maintain your target heart rate.
- Time: Work out for at least 30 minutes per session.
- Type of exercise: A well-rounded exercise program addresses various areas including: Cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, agility, and balance.
Keep your workouts simple and enjoyable
“But I don’t have time to exercise!”
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. A lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not exercising. Remember 30 minutes, 3 times a week? If you’re being honest with yourself, you can probably find an hour and a half over the course of a week (there are 168 hours in a week, but who’s counting?) There’s no need to make it more complicated than it is: just get outside and move. That seems pretty doable, right? As long as you are moving, it counts! I personally prefer to get my exercise outside in the yard gardening and walking the trails with my dog whenever I can. Hiking, running, swimming, dancing, skiing, riding bikes, Pilates, and tennis are all other great ways to exercise without stepping foot in a gym.
A beginner’s guide to creating an exercise program
Maybe you are reading this and starting to feel discouraged because you don’t know where to begin. Good news, WELCOA has created an easy questionnaire to get you started on a beginner exercise program that works for you. The key is to personalize your program so it works for you. If, like me, you aren’t a morning person, forcing yourself to get up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to exercise isn’t sustainable.
Creating an exercise program that you actually enjoy means you’re more likely to stick to it. Just make sure to check with your physician before you start any exercise program.
- What is your favorite physical activity?
- What time of day is best for you to spend 30 minutes exercising?
- Do you like to exercise alone or with friends?
- If you like to exercise with friends, include their names here.
- What is your target heart rate? (Not sure what your target is? There’s an easy way to figure out your target heart rate. Or talk to your doctor for information specific to your age, weight, and medical history.)
- A beginner exercise program needs a frequency of three times a week. Write down three days of the week that you can dedicate to your fitness program.
Then when you know what your exercise program looks like, it’s important to focus on how you’re going to make it a habit. The trick is to create a routine that becomes second nature, like brushing your teeth. After about six to eight weeks — and possibly sooner — you’ll start to see the benefits of exercise, and you’ll be well on your way to improving the overall quality of your life and your physical well-being.
Money Saver Tip: Check with your health insurance company for extra health and wellness benefits, such as free nutrition counseling, 24/7 health coaching, gym discounts, exclusive deals on sporting events, coupons, recipes and more.
Stay tuned for the next installment of The Road to Wellness: Physical Well-being where we will focus on nutrition. Want to catch up on the others? Read the whole Road to Wellness series.