The 3 essential components of a successful exercise program

I think you’d agree sticking to doctor’s appointments is important.  You’ll even leave work in the middle of the day to make a doctor’s appointment.  I do the same.  

I visit the doc so frequently though my staff knows not to schedule meetings around these appointments on my work calendar and when I’m visiting family I don't cancel doctors appointments either.  I can't afford to -- my health is at serious risk otherwise!  I visit the doctor about 5 times a week.

I visit the doctor at yoga; I visit the doctor at kettle bell class, at the dance studio, biking or playing ultimate frisbee.  Yes -- exercise is my physician and I treat workout appointments as importantly as I would doctor’s appointments.  Because they are!

I am a better me when I exercise regularly (and you’ll be a better you when you do too).  I have more energy, think more clearly, I feel better about myself, I eat and sleep better and I’m more pleasurable to be around.  

Not only that, exercise is imperative for improved health and continual or sustained weight-loss.  One reason people reach a weight-loss plateau after they’ve successfully adopted optimal eating behaviors, is a non-existent or incorrect exercise regimen (don’t know how to eat right? Watch one of my earliest and most popular videos “How to Achieve Accelerated Weight Loss” here).

Once you’ve learned how to eat in abundance without portion control or calorie counting, you need to know how to start, improve and stick to a regular exercise program (no protein shakes included).  Here's exactly what you need to include for a successful exercise program...

The 3 essential components of a successful exercise program

1.  Intensity.

Intensity relates to how hard your body is working while exercising.  

The intensity of your workouts should always be increasing or continuously be challenging for fitness to improve over time.  For example, if you do bicep curls with weights every week, the amount of weight should be increasing every 1-2 weeks.  If you walk every week, increase the intensity by adding hills or stairs.  For fitness to improve, you have to continuously challenge your body over time.

You know you've reached your ideal intensity when you could talk out loud, but rather wouldn't.  This is called the talk test and is an effective measure of whether or not you're in your target heart rate.  If you're gasping for air and can hardly breathe, you're working too hard and need to take it down a notch.  If you can carry on a full conversation or sing a song, you aren't working hard enough and need to step it up.

2.  Duration.

Duration refers to the length of workouts.  If you've been walking 3 times a week for 30 minutes a day, try walking for 45 minutes 3 times a week next week (and adding hand weights or hills to increase intensity as well).

The CDC recommends that for the greatest health benefits, adults spend 5 hours a week exercising at a moderate aerobic intensity and 2 days of strength training.  Or, spending 2.5 hours exercising at vigorous aerobic intensity with 2 or more strength training days. 

3.  Frequency.

Frequency refers to how many times a week you workout.  If you currently walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes a day, walk 4 times the next week and 5 times the week after.  Be sure to increase the duration and intensity of your exercise at the appropriate rate every week too.

Take Control Now Action Step

What's most challenging about exercise for you and how have you overcome this barrier in the past?

Answer by clicking 'comment' below.