Mid-Atlantic Rescue Systems, Inc.

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Walk This Way...Beginners Follow Me...

I'm not sure what it is, but recently I have had a growing number of non-exercisers track me down. Not sure if it has something to do with how the stars and moon are aligned, the impending Holiday Season or an increase in circulation of health and wellness information (news Flash - Exercise is good for your health - Okay, maybe not a news flash). Whatever it is, I am grateful. Add it to my Thanksgiving Gratitude list.

Many think it is difficult with beginners, but it doesn't have to be. First of course, they have to want to begin (and mean it). They also have to be cleared by their physician. After that it can be quite simple. After all, they haven't been exercising at all, so even the most basic plans can get them moving in the right direction. Are you a beginner? Here's how I have been getting people started...

To generate a positive start, I've implemented a "feel good" approach. Initial sessions include gentle walking, mild stretching and low intensity resistance training with light weights, medicine balls and/ or elastic bands. Participants are not intimidated. Sessions are within their capabilities, and they leave feeling physically energized and mentally refreshed.

Will the workouts increase in intensity as we progress? Absolutely. Increases will occur gradually and correspond with each individual's progress, needs and goals. For now, this is how we spend the first couple weeks...

We begin with 5 mins of gentle paced walking (pace is determined by individual's comfort level). Next we do 1 exercise (10 repetitions) for each of the following muscle groups - chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. Another five minutes of gentle walking follow. Then we move on to 10 reps each for quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominals and lower back.

As I mentioned earlier, resistance is light and manageble with a fairly low effort by the individual. Don't get me wrong, it's not 'featherweight', but this early in the program we are not focusing on making the last 2-3 reps a significant challenge as we will eventually in the months ahead.

We finish with 5 minutes of gentle walking as a cooldown into 5 minutes of stretching. It all adds up to 15 minutes of walking (note - any cardiovascular exercise will do, as long as it is gentle), 10 minutes of resistance training, and 5 minutes of stretching. It's a nice 30 minutes session, and a great lead in routine for beginners. Workouts are 3 days per week on alternate days. No need to rush in. Get going in the right direction, master it, enjoy it and move on from there.

Good Luck....Stay Safe...and always be sure to have your physician's approval before beginning any exercise routine, regardless of intensity. Gentle or otherwise, see the Dr. First.

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LORI HODGKINSONSenior Correspondent

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