Overwhelmed by exercise options? Start with this simple routine

Do you need to hit the restart button on your health? Whether you’d like to freshen up your fitness routine, or you are embarking on a new wellness journey, this month-long “November to Remember Fitness Plan” is designed to tackle all your toning troubles.

The first week focused on building the foundation necessary for implementing a successful wellness strategy. Your homework was to establish realistic goals, assess your calendar to schedule time for working out and determine whether you would like to become a gym member or create an at-home fitness center.

The next step is to start sweating. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by exercise choices, stick to these top-tier conditioning categories:

Cardio is King. Cardio exercise is a magic pill for improving so many bodily functions. A healthy heart and lungs, increased circulation, weight loss, reduced stress, sleeping more soundly, preventing inflammation — all of these health benefits come from cardio. Aim to perform at least 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics three to five days each week. Here are some easy ways to pick up your pulse:

  • Go for a brisk walk or run
  • Climb the stairs
  • Try the elliptical
  • Take up a sport such as tennis, soccer or swimming

Target Practice. Strength training increases muscle mass and aids in torching some serious calories. Weight training is of equal importance for men and women, yet so many females fear “bulking up.” But without testosterone, it’s hard for women to build bulging muscles. Women should also know that they are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, and the best way to protect bone strength is through strength training and weight-bearing activities.

Start by targeting opposing muscle groups — sets of muscles that work together to help you move your body. Here are three exercises that work opposing muscles. Begin with just your body weight until you perfect your form, then slowly add additional weights. Perform each exercise for one minute, then repeat this circuit three times. Complete this routine three days each week.

  • Pushups work two sets of opposing muscles groups — the chest and back, as well as the biceps and triceps.
  • Air squats challenge one set of opposing muscles — the quads and hamstrings.
  • Planks combined with supermans — lifting arms and legs at the same time while lying prone — work the core muscles and the opposing back muscles.
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Ashley demonstrates plank (L) and superman (R) exercises.

Focus on flexibility. Stretching helps prevent injuries by lengthening your muscles and increasing the range of motion in your joints, which is necessary for everyday function. Again, the key to safely and effectively stretching is to balance opposing muscles. Perform these stretches throughout your day and before bed. Hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds.

For the thighs: Quad + hamstring stretch

Camera icon Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates quad (L) and hamstring (R) stretches.

For the lower back and core: Cat + cow pose

Camera icon Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates cat (L) and cow (R) poses.

For the obliques: Standing side stretch

Camera icon Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates a standing side stretch.

Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.