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These days most articles and magazines try to make exercise look simple. Headlines scream “Just 30 Minutes a Day!” or “Just Three Hours A Week!” But the reality is, it’s not always simple when you first begin a new routine, especially after a diagnosis of heart disease. Even though your routine can start with a basic 30-minute walk to help you achieve your goals, it also involves important details and choices. Here are a few important priorities you might think about when diving into an exercise program.

 If you’re unhappy and no longer having fun, it’s time for a new fitness plan

Personalize as Much as You Can

Your exercise should meet you, not the other way around. Whether you’re walking or lifting weights, you need to begin at your current level of health and fitness. Bite off more than you’re body is ready for and your exercise won’t last very long.  As a very general rule, the older you are or the more more medical concerns you have, the more advice you should seek when you’re beginning an exercise program. Your family doctor is a great place to begin that conversation. If you require more supervision, need more instruction, or are concerned about safety, a personal trainer, physical therapist or medical fitness center is the best option.   A little money for a copay or gym membership can go a long way to learning the ropes of safe and personalized fitness.

Start Basic, Aim For Advanced

If you’re just beginning to exercise, the basics are surely all you need to become stronger and begin to improve your health. As you continue to exercise, however, it becomes important to find ways to challenging yourself within your knowledge and abilities. Over the years, I’ve seen many personal training clients stick with one exercise plan and struggle to make progress because they don’t challenge themselves.

If your exercise routine becomes too easy, you’re getting bored or find yourself less motivated to exercise, it may be time for something new. It’s quite possible you are ready for more advanced strength training exercises or even to begin jogging for short periods of time to break up your walk and increase the intensity. This is a great opportunity to find new passion in exercise: you may find yourself loving to run or lifting heavier weights. The motto here is don’t stick with one plan too long unless it’s getting the results you want.

Find Joy in Achieving Your Goals

If you’re unhappy and no longer having fun, it’s time for a new fitness plan. Of course, not all areas of exercise are fun, but it should spark some joy. If you find yourself in the exercise doldrums, don’t quit. Instead, make a change. I’ve found that talking to people who have successful exercise habits can be both helpful for new ideas and encouraging. Pick their brains, read magazines or stop by a fitness center for new ideas. You may even find yourself on a bike or pair of cross-country skis for the first time and loving it.

One of the biggest signs a change is in order is if you aren’t meeting your goals. To get back on track, take a look at adjusting your fitness plan sooner than later. Are you doing enough to make a difference and meet your goals? You may need a professional’s input to make an accurate assessment of your efforts. This could be your family physician, a personal trainer, or even another avid exerciser with good knowledge. Investigate every angle of your fitness plan to ensure you’re doing what you need to be successful.

Exercise Shouldn’t Stand Alone

It’s important to remember that even though exercise is a powerful tool to promote health and wellness, it shouldn’t stand alone. In the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) , we combine 180 minutes of exercise per week with daily stress management practices, strong social support and a healthy nutrition plan. The combination of these four elements will provide you the best opportunity to be as fit and healthy as you can possibly be.

What steps have you taken to personalize your exercise program?


Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

Better Health Begins With You...

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