Greg Reed, an exercise specialist at Salem Community Hospital, suggests that women start slowly and add duration and intensity in small increments when starting a new exercise program. "A good test to measure your intensity is the 'talk test.' If you are able to comfortably speak while exercising, you are within your exertion range. If you are short of breath and unable to talk, you need to reduce your intensity to bring your heart rate back into a comfortable range for you."
Three types of exercise that can benefit women are stretching, aerobic activity and strength training.
UStretching lengthens muscles and keeps them flexible. Standard stretching exercises include the seated hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch and calf stretch. Always start slowly to help the muscles warm up.
UAerobic exercise is any physical activity that promotes blood flow to the muscles and builds cardiovascular capacity. Any moderate-intensity exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and rowing is aerobic, so choose one that you like and will continue to do.
UOnce you feel comfortable with your exercise program, add strengthening exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups and resistance training. Consider using hand weights that are comfortable to lift 8-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
Remember, exercise is not a quick fix; it's a lifestyle change. The key is to try different physical activities and pick the one that you like best.
XSource: Greg Reed, B.S.Sp.S., ACSM exercise specialist on the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation staff at Salem Community Hospital.