Jonathan Ross of Bowie, Md., a personal trainer consulted by WebMD, said when choosing a workout, concentrate on the whole body and not just one area.
A cardio workout improves the function and health of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Weight-bearing exercises enhance the function and health of the bones, muscles, joints and connective tissues.
“It really doesn’t matter what you do, if it’s running up and down the stairs in your house if it’s sitting up and down in a chair 20 times, or running around the yard, or running around the treadmill, all (cardiovascular) exercise has to be is something that increases the demand for oxygen,” says Ross. “If you are asking your body to use oxygen more rapidly, that is by very definition, cardiovascular training.”
Ross said some activities could double as weight-bearing exercise, the other component to ideal fitness. This type of exercise involves anything that uses body weight against gravity. Examples include walking, jogging, playing basketball, yoga, martial arts, push-ups, weight training and free weights.
To get maximum benefits, focus on working larger muscle groups. Most of muscle mass is in the trunk, thighs, chest, back and abdomen. Ross suggests starting out with one set of eight to 15 repetitions of one exercise two days a week.
Cedric Bryant says to figure out of you are exercising at the right level, try the talk test.
“The goal is to carry on a basic conversation without being out of breath,” said Bryant. “If you find that you are too chatty, however, chances are you are not working hard enough.”
You can also assess your energy level after a workout. If you are still tired one hour after exercise, you probably overdid it, Bryant said.