Before you Start to Exercise

The first step toward getting in shape is having your fitness evaluated - your heart rate, body fat, strength and flexibility, your overall health history.

Ideally, your resting heart rate should be between 60 and 90 beats per minute. After a month or two of regular exercise, your resting heart rate usually drops – this means your heart has become more efficient and in the long run, this saves wear and tear on your heart.

Blood pressure is a measurement of how open your blood vessels are. Low numbers mean that your heart does not have to work very hard to pump the blood through your blood vessels. Ideally, your blood pressure should read 115/75 or below.

Body-fat testing also can tell you if you have too little fat (below 16 per cent), which leads to irregular menstrual period, permanent bone loss and high rate of bone fractures.

A helpful way to keep track of your body fat is to take your measurements. If you are losing inches, chances are you are dropping body fat. Some common places to measure include across the middle of your chest, the center of your upper arm, the smallest part of your waist, the widest part of your hips, the widest part of your thigh and the widest part of your ankle.

The body mass index (BMI) is yet another method to determine how “fat” you are. You can determine your BMI by following these steps:

  1. Multiply your height (in inches) times your height (in inches).
  2. Divide your weight by the number you arrived at in step 1.
  3. Multiply the number you come up with in Step 2 by 705.

People with BMI of 25 or above are considered at higher risk for heart disease, cancer and death. However, keep in mind that BMI is only one factor in assessing your health.

Strength measuring tests include measuring the strength of your upper body, abdominal muscles and lower body by doing sit-ups, push-ups, etc.

Flexibility test includes the range of motion of your joints and muscles.

Establish a plan of attack. Goal-setting works. Having mini-goals makes your long-term goals seem more feasible. In order to stay motivated, you need to feel a sense of accomplishment along the way. Make sure your long-time goals are realistic. Immediate goals refer to goals for each week, day or workout. By setting backup goals, you have a better chance of achieving something, and you don’t feel a failure if your long-term goal does not work out.

Buy the right gear and equipment – it can sometimes be the difference between success and failure. Buy the right shoes for your sport. Walking shoes are more flexible than running shoes. If you dabble in a variety of activities – cross-training shoes may suffice. Don’t cheap-out: One thing that is always more expensive than a good pair of shoes is a visit to an orthopedist. Shop at a specialty store where the sales people are fitness enthusiasts themselves. Make sure the shoes feel good from the moment you put them on.

Hire a quality personal trainer if you can afford it. To get the most of your first training session:

    • schedule the session at a time when the gym is not busy (any time other than weekday mornings or evenings)
    • take notes
    • ask lots of questions
    • don’t expect to absorb everything your trainer tells you on the first day
    • don’t be late for the session
    • get yourself in a positive frame of mind before your training sessions
    • speak up.
    • keep the relationship professional – don’t expect the trainer to fix your life.