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How to Start an Exercise Program

July 22, 2021

It’s never too early or too late to start an exercise program that complements your low carb lifestyle. Beyond just weight loss, regular exercise has a variety of health- and lifestyle-enhancing benefits. Exercise may:

  To truly reap these exercise benefits, three factors are key: the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. Intensity means how hard you’re working, and usually refers to speed of the activity, i.e., how fast you’re walking. Duration refers to how long each workout lasts. Frequency is how often you work out. Unfortunately, this can be your stumbling block.

 The challenge? Our metabolisms are still geared toward those of our hunter-gather ancestors, which were trained to hold onto calories in case of famine and had to put a lot of effort into hunting (literally) for each meal. [AS1] Meanwhile, we’ve become an increasingly sedentary society where our next meal is literally just a click away and shows up on our doorstep in minutes.

 A recent study shows that many overweight people know they must exercise and do —walking being the top choice—but they simply don’t do it often enough. A stroll once or twice a week simply won’t cut it. Whatever you do, you must do it regularly.

 The American Heart Association recommends that adults:

 Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.

  • Add moderate-to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
  • Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
  • Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
  • Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.

 The three components of total fitness

Let’s see how these three components of fitness can work together in a successful exercise program: 

1. AEROBIC EXERCISE 

 What it is:

 Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate and causes you to consume more oxygen.

 Why you need to do it:

 The main reason: cardiovascular conditioning. Because the heart is the pump that supplies the muscle cells with energy-releasing oxygen, it makes sense that the stronger and more efficient the pump, you become less and less winded climbing that set of stairs or walking briskly around the block.  Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, at increasing levels of intensity over weeks and months, strengthens the heart and widens arteries and stimulates formation of new blood vessels throughout the body.

 What to do

 Activities classified as aerobic include walking/running, hiking, skating, cycling, dancing, swimming, cross-country skiing and rowing. Team and one-on-one sports qualify if they keep you moving for long periods.

 You may have learned to love to walk over the past year just to get the heck out of the house, but now it’s time to add some focus and intensity to it.

 How to start a walking program:

 Start with short walks of 10 to 15 minutes at about 3 miles per hour and work up over a period of weeks to 4 to 5 miles-per-hour walks of at least 45 minutes a day, four or five days a week or more (cumulative 10-minute sessions are also okay). To improve fitness, concentrate on intensity, i.e., walking/running longer distances within a given period. 

 

2.  STABILIZING THE CORE 

What it is

Strengthening muscles surrounding your “core,” or torso/trunk. Also known as your abs. 

Why you need to do it

1.) To support your back, 2.) to keep your internal organs aligned correctly where they belong, rather than pooching out over your belt. Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles is especially crucial to avoiding (or correcting) common back problems. A strong core is key because you use your core in all sorts of everyday activities, from just getting out of bed to bending over and picking up a bag of groceries.

 What to do:

 The most common remedy to strengthen abs is various types of crunches, also known as sit-ups. Planks and leg lowering exercises also work. Fortunately, you don’t need any equipment, other than your floor, to work your core.

3. WEIGHT TRAINING 

What it is:

 Weight training, or strength training, uses varying weights to strengthen individual muscles and muscle groups and build muscle mass. Like sprinting, it is usually classified as an anaerobic “without air” activity, exercise, because it is often performed as short bursts of intense effort. Longer exercise sessions with lighter weights can, however, be aerobic.  

 Why you need to do it:

 Your muscles are composed both aerobic (“slow twitch”) and anaerobic (“fast twitch”) fibers (cells). The aerobic fibers allow you to do continuous work, while the anaerobic fibers allow you to perform short bursts of intense effort, and to lift heavy weights. In addition, by building more muscle, which needs more calories to maintain, you will be turning your body into a lean  calorie-burning machine. You’ll be burning more calories, even when you’re not exercising.

 Weightlifting can be done at the gym with machines or at home with free weights or resistance bands.

 Your well-rounded exercise program consists of weight training plus aerobic exercise. To start, in addition to walking (or some other form of aerobic exercise), you can try this workout, which combines high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight training.

*Consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.



Register with Atkins today for additional tips, low carb recipes, and ideas on how to overcome your weight loss plateau.

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