07You’re active or you’re getting active. Great! But you want to make sure you do it right and get the maximum benefit from your exercise programme. This is where you need to understand the three building blocks of a good regime.

Cardio

This is exercise that raises your heart rate and makes you short of breath. Good examples are running, brisk walking, cycling, aerobics classes, and swimming. You want to exercise at a safe but effective level and there are two ways to gauge this:

  1. Exercise at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate (max heart rate = 220 minus your age).
  2. Exercise hard enough so you can talk but not sing.

Strength

This is exercise that strains specific muscles or groups of muscles against resistance. It usually involves weights or gym machines although with a little creativity you can do strength training at home (think push ups, squats, staircases, etc.). Strength training is worthwhile for everyone and you should try to work on each muscle group (arms, legs, chest, back, abdomen, core).

Flexibility

Stretching. This improves your range of motion and overall functioning while also reducing the risk of injury. Once again, every major muscle group should be involved.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The average exercise programme for the average person should be about 50% cardio, 30% strength, and 20% flexibility (this may vary if you have specific exercise goals). Miss one out and your body misses on some great benefits.