How much exercise can your body endure? Generally, muscle fibers need 48-72 hours to fully heal and repair themselves after heavy exercising. For instance, if you do back exercises you are literally tearing the muscles down and stretching them so that they will heal stronger and you will be able to use them better.
Our bodies are very adaptable. Parts of our body that we use daily, like our legs, can benefit from daily exercise. So walking at least ½ hour a day can be part of your sensible exercise plan. But it is a good idea to give different muscle groups at least 48-72 hours to rest between heavy exercise. So when creating your plan, try to rotate exercising different parts of your body throughout the week to give muscles a chance to stretch and rest.
Here are some tips to help you create an exercise plan with staying power:
- If you eat protein within 30 minutes to 1 hour after working out, it will help your muscles recover better.
- There’s no proof that exercising at night interferes with sleep. It appears up to the individual. So if you absolutely can’t find time during the day, try exercising at night and see if it works sensibly for you.
- An effective ‘cardio’ workout is one that causes your breathing to intensify and your heart rate to rise. Your goal should be to have a workout like this for 30-45 minutes at least 2-4 times a week. But start slow if you are not used to exercising. There are lots of DVD’s on the market that you can pop into the DVD player. This allows you to have your own personal trainer on the TV, and these DVD’s will vary workouts between slow to faster.
- Cooling off after an exercise workout is extremely important, so allow time for it. Keep moving by slow walking or stretching until your breathing returns to normal. Make sure that you are completely cooled off before getting into a hot tub or sauna after exercise.
- It will usually take 3-4 weeks of gradually-increased exercising of a muscle group before you will see marked improvement. If you want to increase strength and tighten your upper arms, you could lift 2 lb weights the first week, increasing the weights to 5 pounds on each side. After 3-4 weeks of steadily doing this, your upper arms should be stronger and muscle definition should begin to be visible. You could then increase the weights to 10 lbs or heavier depending on your ability or goals.
- Speaking of goals, don’t start an exercise plan without them. What do you want to accomplish? How many pounds or inches do you want to lose? Only when you know what you want can you decide what types of exercise to include in your plan. Write down your goals and post them where you can see them. Have a “by” date: By January 30 I want to lose ___ pounds and I want my waistline to be ___ inches.
- If you sleep for eight hours (and we all should), there are 32 half-hours left in the day. Schedule your half-hour for exercise daily and stick to it.
- Exercise plans aren’t set in concrete. If certain exercises aren’t working for you or you aren’t seeing results, change the plan. That’s the great part – it’s your plan.
- Don’t leave it for weekends. To be most effective, exercise should be done regularly – preferably daily. If you only exercise on weekends, you risk hurting or straining your muscles because they will remain inactive throughout the week.
- Check out the benefits of tai chi or yoga. They are popular because they stretch muscles without hurting them, and they are a slower form of exercise. You may want to include these exercise forms into your weekly routine.
- How far can you walk or run in 10 minutes? If you get farther than a mile you’re in pretty good shape. Many beginners will tire after a few minutes. This will give you an idea of how much work you have ahead of you, and the pace at which you should start.
These are just a few ideas to help you create a sensible exercise plan. Finding the time and being sure you have comfortable workout clothing and shoes are other things to consider. Will you join an exercise group or your neighborhood gym? Will you start your own exercise group with friends? Have fun, stay motivated, and watch the pounds come off!