Our expert says:
Physical fitness would involve primarily aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, swimming, rowing, squash, or aerobics. Most of these are available outside a gym, such as squash, running, walking, cycling, and in the summer, swimming. Unless you are preparing specifically for an event, it may be best to vary and alternate the types. There is no real difference in the benefits to be gained from doing one or the other type of activity. Keep in mind that if you swim, then you will not be running fit, and so on. Therefore, in planning your fitness programme, you need to select which types of exercises you want to become fit in. You don't have to limit this to only one or two either. Next, you should consider what your time constraints are - you may only be able to train 5 times a week. It would be ideal to train 5 to 6 times a week eventually. In the initial stages, you can train 3 to 4 times, so that you don't become injured, but later, you might increase this to 5 or 6. Once you have established this, you basically just need to go for it - practice makes perfect, and you may struggle at first, but push on, and you will start to feel fitter, and you will get faster too.
For general health benefits, it is important to exercise between 4 and 5 times a week, for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes each session. It is also ideal to work at a lower intensity, but for a longer duration. You should aim to do these sessions at an intensity that allows you to complete the session without feeling completely exhausted, but having worked up a good sweat and feeling that your breathing and metabolic rate are elevated.
Now, weight training is not really what I would call a fitness exercise, although it is true that lifting weights is relatively demanding. However, the real fitness gains come from cardio exercise, as I've explained.
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