Health; Set Realistic Goals.

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First of all, if you plan to start an exercise program, do not set unrealistic goals. Start slowly, and work your way up. Scientists have recently acknowledged the value of light-to-moderate physical activity, and they recommend that sedentary people increase their activity gradually. For instance, the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, a newsletter on nutrition, fitness, and stress management published by the University of California, advises: “Start by adding a few minutes of increased activity to your day, and work up to 30 minutes most,  and preferably all, days of the week.” The newsletter explains that “all you have to do are the normal things, like walking and taking the stairs, but just more often, a little longer, and/or a little faster.”

Beginners should focus on regularity rather than intensity. Once your strength and endurance have improved, you can work on increasing the intensity of the exercise. This can be done by incorporating longer sessions of more vigorous activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, or cycling. Eventually for a more well-rounded fitness program, you may even include some weight lifting and some stretching exercises. Many health experts, however, no longer subscribe to the “no pain, no gain” approach to exercise. So, to reduce the risk of injury and to avoid the burnout and discouragement that often lead to quitting, keep exercise at a comfortable level.

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