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A new school year means new routines for many.
With shifting life schedules during this super busy time, this might be the perfect time to squeeze exercising into your new routine while the kids are at school, or for teachers, add it in as an after-school healthy habit.
Most people workout to stay fit, but exercising provides many health benefits beyond weight management and a toned body.
It can help with managing stress, boosting energy and improving moods.
In addition, exercise has been proven to help you get a better night’s sleep.
All of these benefits are important components for living a balanced, happy life and should be reasons for re-evaluating your schedule to incorporate more movement.
There are an infinite number of ways to get going, including walking, dancing, and playing sports.
Even “homework” like mowing the yard counts as a beneficial activity.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, be sure to take it slow and give your body a chance to acclimate to the change.
If you’re an older beginner, it’s a good idea to get clearance from your doctor and know your limitations before you get started.
Here are some common types of exercise.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise, four to five days per week to reap health rewards.
Walking is an easy and convenient way for many to get moving and because there’s no equipment involved, it’s relatively inexpensive to get started.
Consider mapping out a course in your neighborhood or at a local park.
There are free apps that will time your walking trip and show you how far you’ve walked.
This allows you to set the bar and continue to push it each time you go for a stroll.
If it’s too hot outside, walking indoors on a treadmill not only gets you into air conditioning, but most treadmills have a flexible low-impact walking deck that provides less stress on the body.
Another indoor option is mall walking. Both the Merritt Square and Melbourne Square malls allow walkers to window shop while exercising.
Other low-impact cardio activities to consider are swimming, rowing and bike riding.
For those that are a bit more advanced and want a challenge, there are more intense activities beyond running, including jumping rope, burpees and playing sports like tennis and basketball.
Check out the new sport of pickleball, a tennis like alternative, which has become very popular recently.
Don’t forget about dancing, which is always fun and will get your heart pumping too.
Body weight exercises like pushups, planks and lunges are easy to learn and can be done just about anywhere and at any time.
If you have access to dumbbells and barbells, choose a weight you can comfortably do eight to 12 times per set and aim for two to three sets per day. These exercise should be done two to three times per week for starters.
If you’re hitting the gym, take advantage of the weight machines when starting a new strength-training routine.
The machines offer guidance through a controlled motion and lessen the risk of injury. Many gyms provide help for new members so take advantage of the staff that is there to assist in this new journey.
The American College on Exercise recommends stretching most days of the week in a slow, controlled movement and each stretch should be held anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds to see a benefit.
Learn several stretches that are beneficial for you, whether it be a lower-back stretch or calf stretches, and incorporate them into the downtime of your day, especially if you are sitting or standing in the same position a lot.
Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility; it provides many other health benefits beyond a head-to-toe stretch, including lowering heart rate, reducing stress and improving mental health, so check out the many classes offered around town or opt for an online option to get started.
There are many different types of yoga, so be sure to do a little research to determine which style might be best for you.
Joining a class
You don’t have to go back to school to take a class.
Group fitness classes, available at your local fitness or rec centers, are a fun way to get in shape.
A class setting provides a network of like-minded friends that can provide encouragement as well as hold you accountable, all while under the supervision of a professional.
The team or tribe mentality of a class has helped many reach their fitness goals that they probably would not have achieved on their own.
In addition, group classes offer a social opportunity, which can be a great mental stimulation for parents who might be starved for adult interaction.
While most exercise classes can be adapted to any experience and conditioning level, some fitness centers including cross-fit gyms, yoga studios and traditional fitness centers, which have dedicated classes for the novice. So do a little research and go check out your local offerings in person to see if a class is the right fit for you.
No matter what exercise routine you choose, make sure you enjoy it.
If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stay committed to it, even during the hectic times.
The key is to just make it happen, no matter what — no excuses. So, pick something that fits your personality, something you enjoy, and stick to it. Now get out there and walk, dance or play your way into shape!
Jim McCormick has been the owner of Cocoa Beach Health and Fitness since 2008 and has been a resident of Brevard County since 1970.