Choosing the Right Fitness Program for You

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To maintain a healthy weight, you need to work on your fitness. This will require a concerted effort to integrate exercise into your daily schedule — no matter how busy you are. The first place to start is choosing the best exercise for you and your needs.

Does personality matter?

According to fitness coach Eric Stevens, the key to finding the right fitness program is to match it to your personality.

Are you an extrovert — outgoing and socially confident? You are likely to enjoy high-energy exercises such as Zumba and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), team sports and social get-togethers like group hikes.

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Are you an introvert who is more focused on your internal world? Quieter physical activity might be more for you, including activities that allow you to clear your head, such as mind–body disciplines (yoga and Pilates), countryside walks, golf and endurance sports (cycling, swimming and running).

Developing a balanced fitness plan

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), your weekly exercise routine should include 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. If this level of exercise seems daunting, start slowly and increase gradually. For instance, you could start with one 10-minute walk five days a week, moving up to two 10-minutes walks, and then three 10-minute walks. This would eventually amount to 150 minutes of walking each week via achievable, bite-size sessions.

It is also advisable to include at least two weekly strength-training sessions in your routine. Building muscle really is a win-win situation since you will burn calories while you train, but muscle also increases your fat-burning ability while at rest. If you get into strength training, ensure you have a minimum of 48 hours of rest between sessions to let your muscles recover.

Making time for fitness

Your time is an important asset when trying to make exercise a habit. However, exercise doesn’t have to be time-consuming to be effective. In other words, you can plan your exercise routine around your schedule — even integrating it into your journey to work or your time with friends. Meeting a friend for coffee? Why not find a location where you can chat over your drinks and finish with a walk? Or maybe you could go for a swim and then finish with a healthy lunch together? If you want to integrate fitness into your life, you can make it work without having to disrupt your usual daily activities.

Fitness really does matter

While diet or physical activity alone may help you either lose or maintain weight, a combination of the two will propel you to your goals faster. In one study that included 40 women with overweight or obesity, four groups were formed: resistance training only, diet only, resistance training plus diet, and a control group (a non-intervention group). At the end of the study, all three intervention groups showed a decrease in fat mass, but the largest decrease was recorded for the resistance training plus diet group.

So, are you ready to commit? Tell at least one person your fitness plans, as spreading the word will help make it a reality. You’ve got this!

Want to learn more about exercising with diabetes? Read “Add Movement to Your Life,” “Picking the Right Activity to Meet Your Fitness Goals” and “Seven Ways to Have Fun Exercising.”

Nicola Davies, PhD

Davies is a Health Psychologist and Medical Writer at Health Psychology Consultancy Ltd. Her expertise is in the psychology of health and well-being, which she writes prolifically on across the globe. She has three books: I Can Beat Obesity! Finding the Motivation, Confidence and Skills to Lose Weight and Avoid Relapse, I Can Beat Anorexia! Finding the Motivation, Confidence and Skills to Recover and Avoid Relapse, and Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook: A Practical Guide to Long-Term Recovery.

Davies’ work in the field of pain is largely focused on lifestyle, behavior change, coping, and developing the skills and confidence to self-manage.

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