Health and fitness: Find and stick to the right program

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By Kent Pegg

Another new year is upon us and that means that many of you have resolved to get fit, lose weight or improve your health this coming year. Good for you! There is no time like the present to start out on your path to a healthier, more fit life.But often that’s easier said than done. If you don’t have a significant workout history it can be challenging to find the right exercise program and stick with it long term. Fear not, however, because there are some things you can do to significantly improve your chances of succeeding with your resolutions this year.First, be careful. Take it slow and get some help. The worst thing you can do is start out on an exercise program that is not right for you and get hurt. Not only does that set you back on your health and fitness journey, but it just might be enough to keep you from wanting to work out at all.Next, get some advice from a fitness professional to help you determine the right workout program for you. Then take it slow and increase the intensity of your exercise sessions gradually. A healthier you will come about over the coming months, not overnight.If you’re relatively healthy and not facing any significant health challenges, start by working out three to four times per week for about an hour. This will give you time for 20 to 30 minutes of weight training, 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and some additional time for stretching.Don’t try to lift weights for every body part every time you work out. It will be more beneficial to isolate certain body parts for each workout. Depending on your frequency and intensity of exercise that can be upper body on one day and lower body on another. Or you can even split your upper body workout into pushing exercises one day and pulling exercises on another giving you a three workout program.Select five or six exercises and perform three sets of each for 12 repetitions. Start with light weights and increase gradually as you become stronger. When you’re able to comfortably complete the number of sets and reps with the weight you’re using, increase the weight slightly so it’s not quite as easy.As for cardiovascular exercise, try using a variety of equipment like elliptical trainers, stair steppers, bikes and treadmills. Select equipment that is interesting and motivating to help you stick with your new exercise program. Again, it is very important that you start out slow and increase the intensity and duration of your cardio work as your fitness level increases.Another great option is to take a few different exercise classes. Try out a variety of classes to see which ones are the right ones for you. Stretching, yoga, cardio, weight training, abs and other classes might be just the right vehicle to get you going on your new exercise routine. They’re instructional, motivating and allow you to work out with other people who share your goals.So if you’re one of the many who will be resolving to start on your path to greater health and fitness this year, now is the time. Get started and stay motivated. Remember that this year is going to pass and it is up to you where you’ll be next year at this time.Embrace and enjoy your journey to find the new you this new year.

Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center. If you have any questions about the information or exercises in this column, you can call him at 662-5232.