10 Fun Activities for a Mix-and-Match Fitness Plan
How much exercise do you need? According to government guidelines, the answer is 30 minutes on most days of the week. But what does that really mean? My version of 30 minutes of exercise might be very different from yours. Fortunately, you can calculate your own fitness level by using the aerobic mile as your guideline, and then, developing a fitness plan that’s right for you.
The Aerobic Mile
In simplest terms, an aerobic mile is how much energy you expend jogging one mile. If you don’t like jogging or prefer a different type of activity, you can burn the same number of calories by doing activities that equal one aerobic mile. Here are some options for you:
- Walk for one mile at any pace.
- Bike at a moderate pace for 12 minutes.
- Row vigorously for 12 minutes.
- Swim for 24 minutes.
- Play tennis for 20 minutes (11 minutes if your game is vigorous).
- Train with weights at a moderate pace for 15 minutes.
- Do some easy gardening for one hour.
- Do aerobic exercise to music at an easy pace for 20 minutes.
For beginners, it’s best to complete the equivalent of six aerobic miles per week. If you already have a good fitness level, you can move up to 10 hours per week, and if you have a high fitness level, you can do 15 aerobic miles per week.
Your Mix-and-Match Fitness Plan
Once you know how much exercise you need to do to equal an aerobic mile, it’s time to choose your activities! Below are 10 fun activities to choose from.
Aerobic Dancing or Step Aerobics (Low to High Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for your cardiovascular health and overall body toning
Training Tip: Find a fitness class and instructor who works in a style and tempo that’s comfortable for you.
Warning: High-impact aerobics can strain your knees, hips, and ankles. Step aerobics is a lower-impact activity, but you should avoid it if you have knee problems.
Bicycling (Low Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for aerobic-endurance and weight control. Biking develops strong legs and thighs without pounding your feet, knees, and ankles.
Training Tip: Learn to maintain a high pedal tempo (80 to 100 revolutions per minute).
Warning: Beginners should learn hand signals and rules of the road and should ride in a traffic-free setting.
Running (High Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for leg strength, aerobic fitness, and weight control.
Training Tip: Run at a pace that is comfortable to you and walk if you need to. Whenever possible, run on a soft surface such as grass, dirt, or a running track.
Warning: If you feel any aches or pain in your hips, knees, legs, feet, or ankles, stop immediately and take several days off before running again. If the pain lasts more than a week, see your doctor.
Stair Climbing (Low Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for aerobic fitness, leg and buttock strength, and overall toning
Training Tip: Short, quick steps work best.
Warning: Avoid over-striding, which can strain your knees.
Stationary Bicycling (Low Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for cardiovascular fitness, weight control, and leg strength. It’s a good complement to running since it develops the quadriceps.
Training Tip: Vary your effort so you don’t get bored. You can also invest in a computerized stationary bike with programmed workouts, which can make your fitness session more interesting.
Warning: The exercise bike is most effective when you supplement it with other activities.
Swimming (Low Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent to develop your arms and shoulders and great for aerobic endurance. Swimming is also good for overall flexibility, and it’s fair for weight control. It reduces stress, too!
Training Tip: Vary your stroke to keep things interesting, and remember, it’s only aerobic if you don’t stop.
Warning: Start with swimming lessons if your skills are rusty or you’re a novice, and swim with a partner or under a lifeguard’s supervision.
Tennis or Racquetball (Medium Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for eye-hand coordination, balance, and leg and arm toning. Moderately good for aerobic fitness and weight loss.
Training Tip: Work on developing a smooth, consistent swing, and take lessons if you want to improve your game quickly.
Warning: Wear shoes with good lateral support to prevent foot and ankle injuries.
Walking (Medium Impact)
Body Benefits: Good for leg strength and cardiovascular health
Training Tip: Pump your arms faster and your legs will move faster, too. Try to fit walking into your daily routine. Find a friend to walk with you if your fitness personality is one that prefers exercising with other people. You can even follow the Walkwell Program!
Warning: Make sure your shoes fit and are broken in before taking long walks.
Weight Training (Medium Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for overall muscle, tendon, and bone strength. Mildly beneficial for the heart. When done properly, weight training can improve your performance in virtually any sport.
Training Tip: Do between eight and 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Warning: Don’t overdo it! If you use barbells, always have another person spot you. Take at least one day to recover between weight training sessions.
Yoga (Low Impact)
Body Benefits: Excellent for flexibility, relaxation, and stress reduction.
Training Tip: Find a good instructor who can modify yoga to suit your individual needs rather than someone who insists on “classical” yoga positions.
Warning: Don’t push. Develop your skills slowly.
Your Next Steps to Improve Your Fitness with Activities You’ll Stick With
If you’re ready to start a fitness plan or improve your fitness with activities you’ll actually stick with, your next step is to work with a health coach or wellness coach who can help you develop the right fitness routine to meet your lifestyle and goals.
The certified coaches at Wellbeing Coaches can help you do it with a plan that works specifically for you. Schedule a free 15-minute Talk to a Coach session with the health or wellness coach of your choice to get started!
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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