Having a gym membership is great -— unless you don't have time to use it, in which case you feel guilty for wasting your money. If you'd rather keep your money in your pocket, you can make great improvements in your strength, stamina and general health by creating your own home exercise plan.
Start adding muscle mass with bodyweight exercises before you need to think about the additional challenge of adding weights to the program.
What's more, you'll save time and money.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
How much time should you plan to spend exercising? The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity workout.
That's just a little more than 20 minutes daily of moderate activity, or 30 minutes on weekdays. For most people, that is pretty easy to hack, even if they're not in tip-top condition.
When you're beginning a fitness program, your best bet is to set goals that you can easily exceed by roughly 20 percent. Building intensity and duration gradually is the best insurance against burnout. To make significant progress, though, you should work out until you experience some muscle fatigue.
Creating a Plan
A well-rounded exercise program consists of four main aspects: cardio, strength training for muscles and bones, flexibility and balance — the latter grows in importance as you age).
Not surprisingly, many exercises cover more than one base. Certain aerobic/endurance activities, such as running and stair-climbing, also count as resistance training because they strengthen both bone and muscle. Push-ups, for example, are a great resistance exercise that also stabilize your gait by strengthening core muscles.
You can concentrate on one area at a time or divide your sessions as you please, emphasizing the areas where you feel you need the greatest improvement.
Sample Plan for Beginners
Begin with 20 minutes of walking, taking the first 10 minutes at a leisurely pace, then try to hit close to your max the next 5 and take it easy for the last 5 minutes.
Follow this with the 15 minutes of stretching those warm muscles. Now assume the position and do some push-ups the right way. On the first day, three will suffice and, after that, you can add 1 every other day.
Lie on your back and assume corpse pose. Cynics may say this is just lying there and pretending to do yoga, but it actually re-aligns your spine and pelvis, if you relax into it.
Don't get too comfortable, though, because you've still got to do 5 crunches and 3 leg-lifts. For balance, be sure to add squats and lunges.
Shift emphasis from day to day to keep variety, adding other bodyweight exercises as you desire.