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I know I should exercise to improve my health but where do I begin?

It’s always best to check with your primary care provider before you start any fitness program. Recognize your fitness level and physical limitations and find a program or activity that fits your lifestyle and will help you reach your goals. The American College of Sports Medicine has identified five components of physical fitness: body composition (BMI), cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance. A good exercise routine will help you address all five areas of physical fitness.

Steady state exercise, maintaining an elevated heart rate for at least 20 minutes per day, has the biggest effect on cardiorespiratory fitness. Other activities like gardening and housework are beneficial for other components of fitness like flexibility and strength.

To get started, take advantage of the many wellness and fitness programs in our area. Classes are offered at the senior center, Columbia College, private health clubs, the Live Well Be Well Center, and many others. For people who have never participated in any kind of exercise or training program, a fitness class is most helpful. You will learn proper movement and avoid injury. Being enrolled in a class also instills a certain level of accountability, encouraging consistent participation. But not all classes are for everyone. If you start a fitness program that you don’t like, don’t get discouraged. Try other activities until you find something you can commit to.

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