To live a normal life without exercise in today’s world is, for most people, like running the water into your bath without ever pulling out the plug. Eventually it’s going to overflow. There is no way you can manage the day to-day stress of life in the twenty first century and have your life under control unless you carry out an exercise session or exercise regularly.

That being said, here’s the procedure of a typical exercise session:

  • 1. Warm-up

It’s generally accepted that you should include a warm-up activity prior to strenuous exercise and a cool-down after you exercise. If you allow your body to prepare itself by warming up first, you’ll have fewer pulled muscles and other physical problems.

Most gyms will design you an exercise program which includes warm-ups and cool-downs. A warm-up generally consists of light walking or a period on the exercycle to get the blood flowing in your legs, followed by some light stretching and callisthenics.

  • 2. Exercise

The exercise itself needs to be hard enough to make you perspire and to ensure that your heart rate is increased to between 60 to 80 percent of your maximum rate possible. You can easily figure out what your maximum rate is, in beats per minute, by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you’re 20 years of age, then 220 minus 20 = 200 beats a minute.

You should not exercise at this level, it’s too high, but if you want to be sure that you’re exercising hard enough to cut your stress level, that is, exercising aerobically, you should try to raise your heart rate to between 60 percent and 80 percent of whatever your maximum heart rate is.

Check your heart rate while you’re exercising to see whether it’s at the level you want. Exercise, then count your pulse for 10 seconds, and multiply it by six.

If your heart rate is between 120 and 160, the intensity of your exercise is acceptable for a 20-year-old, but if it is above 160, then the exercise is probably too vigorous for you and you need to cut it back. If your heart rate is below 120, then you can probably increase the intensity.

Obviously, if you are older than 20, you will reach your 80 percent and 60 percent limits at a lower number of beats per minute. If you can’t take the time to count your heart rate, then a good rule of thumb is to look at whether you can talk while you exercise.

  • 3. Cool down

Taking time to cool down after your exercise is also very important. If you make sure that you walk around and stretch your leg muscles after you have finished exercising, you won’t get blood pooling in the extremities. It is this that makes you aching and stiff later.

Follow these three simple steps regularly to improve your health, fitness, and of course how you feel!

By Dr Gail Ratcliffe, author of Take Control of Your Life. Get hold of our complete Motivation Collection to live well and feel good, available for instant download from Our Catalogue.