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Exercising for Fun

Exercise is a great way to stay healthy - especially if you keep at it. "At least 50 per cent of people who start an exercise program drop out after six months," says Dr. Ken Turley, assistant professor of kinesiology at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

Maybe you started out on an exercise program with great enthusiasm, only to find you can't keep it up. "Find a few activities you like," Turley says. "You'll get burned out on just one. If you can afford it, work out with a trainer. Your compliance will go way up."

"Pick something fun," adds Sid Schneider of Salisbury State University at Salisbury, Md. "If it becomes a chore, you are liable to quit."

Or start small, advises Dr. Dale Brigham, assistant professor of nutrition and fitness at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "I'm a strong believer in 'found fitness,' " he says. "Think creatively. Find opportunities for fitness. Walk, don't drive, to get . . . milk."

A problem of modern life, the experts say, is that few occupations now demand much in the way of physical exertion. Physical education classes at school are on the decline. Overweight or obesity affect more and more people. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 per cent of American adults don't engage in any kind of sport or physical activity.

"Do something that fits with your personality," says Dr. John Smith, assistant professor of health and exercise sciences at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. "Some people like to exercise alone and enjoy the solitude. Others like the buddy system. Trainers can help you read your personality and come up with a program that reflects it."

Smith suggests that if weight loss is on your mind, take it in stages. "Don't start out trying to lose weight but to stop from gaining it. Then you can slowly begin to take it off. One pound a week is the goal to aim for eventually."

And keep in mind, the mind: "Changing your behaviour is extremely difficult. That's why you have so many 'relapsers,"' says Dr. John Acquaviva, assistant professor of physical education at Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

"Many people do not enjoy exerting themselves because they don't understand the difference between fatigue and pain," he says. "If you're exercising for the first time, it may feel uncomfortable. You sweat. Your muscles burn. You may feel tired. A lot of people say, 'This is difficult for me. I do not enjoy doing it, so I'm not going to do it.' They equate exerting themselves with feeling uncomfortable."

All caution that you should check with your doctor to determine what level of exercise is appropriate, especially if you're over 40.

"Find out your average heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. If you're 40, then your maximum heart rate is 180 beats a minute. If you've been sedentary for a while, shoot for 50 percent - say a heart rate around 90. If your heart rate is already around 90, then go 10-20 beats above that. Do that for a few weeks, then start increasing your intensity."

Reference Source 102

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