How to Design Your Own Exercise Routine

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Are you trying to resurrect an exercise regimen that worked for you in the past? Do you have an own exercise routine that’s feeling too “routine”? Looking for effective ways to release stress? Maybe some change in your health is the reason for your new interest in taking better care of your body. You don’t need to be a professional trainer to design your own exercise routines. All it takes is figuring out what you like to do and what kind of workout you can stick to!

Starting Sensibly

As you contemplate a reasonable physical fitness plan for yourself, think about training versus cross-training. Are you the type of person who gets easily confused or frustrated by too many choices? You may feel that you have to make too many decisions in other areas of your life and just want to “keep it simple” when it comes to exercising. If this is the case, you may opt for one type of training, exclusively. Pick something you’ll enjoy. On the other hand, if variety is the spice of your life, have fun with cross-training-mixing up a few types of exercise, alternating from one day to the next. When you’re up and running, exercising anywhere from four to six days a week is considered optimal.

More important, if you’re aware of any medical conditions that require special care, consult your physician and obtain his or her approval and/or guidance before you begin any physical fitness plan. You always want to work with yourself to obtain the results you seek.


If you’re tired, feel sore, have a cold, the flu, or are otherwise under the weather, never overdo it. If you’re doing fairly strenuous exercise, it’s also a good idea to work out every other day rather than daily to make sure you don’t invite injury and also give your body enough rest between workouts.

Find your best time. You want to set yourself up for success, so be sure to pick a time of day that feels natural. Not an early riser? Try working out before dinner or at least an hour after eating your evening meal. Too tired after working all day? Get up an hour earlier and exercise before dealing with the day’s business. Tired of extended power lunches? Skip them; exercise instead, but be sure to make time for nourishing your body afterward. Got extra time over the weekend? Set aside an hour or two for your workout on Saturday, Sunday, or both days if you’re so inclined. Perhaps you’re even flexible enough to combine all of these options in the course of a week.

Warm-up! Stretch before you begin your workout, no matter what type of exercise you choose! Your body will thank you for it.

Walking, Jogging, and Bike Riding

Walking, jogging, and bike riding are all aerobic exercises – they entail coordinated movement of the large muscles in your upper and lower body, which is sustained for an extended period of time (fifteen to twenty minutes or longer). Aerobic exercise is geared toward maximizing the rate at which your metabolism allows you to burn calories, at the same time strengthening your cardiovascular (heart and lung) tissues by making more oxygen available to them.

Walking: Walking is often considered the most accessible and beneficial exercise for many reasons. First, the only equipment you need is your body and a place to walk. You can make an extra effort to find a place you like, or you can simply leave your home, briskly put one foot in front of the other for a couple of miles, and return after at least forty minutes. Second, it’s an excellent way to get fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. Lastly, it’s easy on your joints and muscles. The average calorie burns 260 per hour at 3 to 3.5 mph.

Jogging: Jogging is harder on your joints and muscles than walking, but you do cover more ground within the same period of time. While both types of exercise offer the same benefits, you may think of jogging as a “step-up” from walking, or simply as an alternative. It can be fun to train for marathon runs that are regular events where you live, or even outside of your area. It’s possible that setting these kinds of goals and attaining them will give you the impetus for sticking with a jogging routine. The average calorie burns 590 per hour at 5.5 mph.

Bike Riding: Unlike walking and jogging, bike riding involves two pieces of hardware – don’t forget a decent helmet. These requirements alone may serve as motivation for you to get your money’s worth out of your purchases. Bike riding is potentially less aerobic than walking and jogging if stopping at intersections is a factor or if you tend to stop and start. So, if possible, you may want to choose a place where you can ride for at least thirty minutes nonstop to get the most out of this type of exercise. Average calorie burns 378 per hour at 10 mph on level ground.

Aerobics and Yoga

Aerobics and yoga are both excellent choices for those who want a physical-fitness program that provides great exercise but is less strenuous than biking or jogging.

Aerobics: In addition to being a vehicle for burning an average of 350 calories in a one-hour class (depending on your weight, gender, and body composition), aerobics is an outlet for your physical creativity and expression. Plus, you get to listen to music while you work out, which may help take some of the “pain out of the gain (benefits).” While there is no scarcity of aerobics DVDs on the market, you’ll also find classes at health clubs and studios. For some, working out with a group makes all the difference. Classes typically consist of a warm-up (ten minutes), either high- or low-impact aerobics (thirty minutes), abdominals and/or lower-body exercises (ten minutes), and a cool down (ten minutes).

Yoga: If you’re drawn to a more spiritual mind-over-body experience, consider yoga. You can do yoga easily at home by following a book or videotape, or exercise facility. Yoga consists of various postures accompanied by coordinated breathing interspersed with meditation. The dedicated practice may prove an effective way for you to remove unwanted stress from your life while getting some exercise, and you just may discover a new exercise to add to your routine!

Lauren Author

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