Spring into Exercise Believe it or not spring is coming! Now is a good time to think about starting an exercise program to shed the extra weight you may have put on over the winter months and to improve overall fitness. The benefits of exercise include increase heart and lung function, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and an increased metabolic rate so calories are burned more efficiently, as well as combating diseases and improving sleep and self esteem. Some thoughts to keep in mind as you begin your program are: • If you are a beginner or haven’t exercised in some time, it is highly recommended you obtain clearance from your physician. • Choose an activity you enjoy. You will be more compliant with your exercise if you enjoy what you are doing! • Wear appropriate foot wear as the position your feet are in can ultimately have an impact on your knees, hips and spine. • Spend the first and last 5 minutes doing a warm up and cool down. The more vigorous part of your workout should last at least 20-30 minutes to get the cardiovascular benefit. • Stretching your muscles after exercise is recommended to avoid. • Set a goal for yourself! Decide on a routine and a frequency of exercise. Remember, you need to give yourself at least 3 weeks of regularly performing a routine before it starts to become habit. Shoot for a frequency of at least 3-4 times per week. • Once you have obtained clearance from your physician, you can determine the appropriate intensity of exercise by calculating your target heart rate. Simply subtract your age from 220 to obtain your maximum heart rate. If you are just starting to exercise, your goal would be to reach 50-60% of your maximum heart rate level. Whatever form of exercise you decide on, spring is a good time to dust off those walking sneakers and get started! Keep track of your progress and you’ll amaze yourself with how much better you can feel with regular exercise.