Getting Started and Enjoying the Benefits of A Lifetime Exercise Program

In today’s blog I would like to talk about designing a sensible exercise prescription. Included will be a cardiovascular exercise prescription form that you can copy to help set up a safe and effective program.

This exercise prescription calls for a gradual increase in intensity, duration, and frequency. While you could go ahead and attempt to train five or six times per week for thirty minutes at a time, if you have not been exercising regularly, you may find this discouraging and may drop out before getting too far. The reason is that as you begin the program, you will probably develop some muscle soreness and stiffness, and the risk for injuires, can be lessened or eliminated by progressively increasing the intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise as outlined in the form provided. 

Once you have determined your exercise prescription, the difficult part begins: starting and sticking to a lifetime exercise program. Although you may be motviated after reading the benefits to be gained from physical activity, it takes a lifetime of dedication and perseverance to reap and maintain good fitness. The first few weeks are probably the most difficult. However, “ if there’s a will, there’s a way.” Once you begin to see positive changes, it won’t be as difficult. Very soon you will ddevelp a habit for exercise that will bring about a deep satisfaction and sense of self-accomplishment. The following suggestions have been successful with others.

1. Select aerobic activities that you enjoy. Picking an activity that you don’t enjoy makes you less likely to keep exercising. Don’t be afraid of trying out a new activity, even if that means learning new skills.

2. Combine different activities. You can train by doing two or three different activities the same week. For some people this decreases the monotony of repeating the same activity every day. Try lifetime sports. Many endurance sports such as racquetball, basketball, soccer, badminton, rolleskating, cross country skiing, and sufring (paddling the board) provide a nice break from regular workouts.

3. Set aside a regular time for exercise. If you don’t plan ahead, it is a lot easier to skip. Holding your exercise hour “sacred” helps you adhere to the program.

4. Obtain the proper equipment for exercise. A poor pair of shoes, for example, can increase the risk for injury, discouraging you right from the beginning.

5. Find a friend or group of friends to exercise with. Social interaction will make exercise more fulfilling. Besides, it’s harder to skip if someone else is watching for you.

6. Set goals and share them with others. It is tougher to quit when someone else knows what you are trying to accomplish. When you reach a particular goal, reward yourself with a new pair of shoes or a jogging suit.

7. Don’t become a chronic exerciser. Learn to listen to your body. Overexercising can lead to chronic fatigue and injuries. Exercise should be enjoyable, and in the process you will need to “stop and smell the roses.”

9. Keep a regular record of your activities. Keeping a record allows you to monitor your progress and compare it with previous months and years.

10. Conduct periodic assessments. Improving to a higher fitness category is a reward in itself.

11. Don’ t be so critical about yourself. This seems to be the biggest problem for people when it comes to exercise. Body image is a major factor for motivating a person to exercise. However, if a person only exercises to change the way they look they might be disappointed over time because they will always be trying to change their appearance. They become too fixated on creating a body that might not be realistic. This is the downfall for many exercise up starts. Stop being so critical of your body and enjoy the benefits exercise has to offer.

To maintain fitness, you should maintain a regular exercise program, even during vacations. If you have to interrupt your program for reasons beyond your control, do not attempt to resume your training at the same level you left off but, rather, build up gradually again.

The time involved in regaining the benefits of exercise varies among the different components of physical fitness and also depends on the condition achieved before the interruption. In regard to cardiovascular endurance, it has been estimated that four weeks of aerobic training are completely reversed in two consecutive weeks of physical inactivity. On the other hand, if you have been exercising regularly for months or years, two weeks of inactivty will not hurt you as much as it will someone who has exercised only a few weeks. As a rule of thumb, after only forty-eight hours of aerobic inactivity, the cardiovascular system starts to lose some of its capacity (flexibility can be maintained with two or three stretching sessions per week, and strength is easily maintained with just one maximal training session per week).

The benefits of fitness can be maintained only through a regular lifetime program. Exercise is not like putting money in the bank. It does not help to exercise four or five hours on Sunday and not nothing else the rest of the week. If anything, exercising only once a week is unsafe for unconditioned adults. Even the greatest athlete on earth, if he/she stops exercising, would be at a similar risk for disease after just a few years as someone who has never done any physical activity. Staying with a physical fitness program long enough will bring about positive physiological and psychological changes, and once you are there, you will not want to have it any other way.

I mentioned that I would provide a cardiovascular exercise prescription form to help you design the right program for yourself. If you would like that form please email me at and I will send you the form thanks.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

tags: daryl conant, eric cressey, fitness,, bodybuilding, muscle building, strength, vince gironda.