Phase 1 – Physical Activity

Phase 1 – Physical Activity

In this HeartStrong.com video/article, we are going to discuss the phase 1 physical activity plan. Here are the goals of this plan:

1. Introduce a higher level of physical activity than you are used to
2. Set a foundation for you to progress to higher levels of activity
3. Work up to at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise AND 1 day of strength training per week
4. Burn adequate calories and increase your metabolism (basal metabolic rate) to help you achieve your ideal weight

Type of Aerobic Exercise

In the HeartStrong.com program, you chose which type of aerobic exercise that you prefer. These were discussed in the Aerobic Exercise and Heart Health video/article and include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging or running
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing

There are only small differences between the exercises in regards to calories burned, so just do whichever activity that you enjoy the most. We want to be sure you are having fun and can keep up the activity lifelong.

Intensity and Duration of Aerobic Activity

The goal is to get to 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week. These 150 minutes can be done all in 2 sessions of 75 minutes each if you safely can, or 5 sessions of 30 minutes each. Just be sure the intensity is moderate and not too high, but also not too low. The difference was discussed in detail in the Aerobic Exercise and Heart Health video/article.

Here some things to remember when starting the aerobic exercise part of the HeartStrong.com program

  • DO NOT start your program by doing too much for your body – this will lead to fatigue and/or injury. Start slow and gentle and work your way up. Increase by 10% per week and no more to avoid injury.
  • Be sure that the intensity of your exercise is right – not too much or too little. Too high of an intensity will make you fatigued, demotivated and can lead to injury.
  • Be sure to prepare yourself adequately for the physical activity of your choice, don’t just jump right into it. Get the right gear if needed and have a plan ready.

Strength Training

Remember that the AHA and CDC recommends 2 days of strength training, however phase 1 starts you out only once per week. Recall from the Strength Training and Heart Health video/article that a complete workout during strength training is considered 8-12 reps and 3 sets of about 8-10 different exercises targeting multiple muscle groups. Each workout should last about an hour, but no longer. It is always important to work larger muscle groups first, then smaller muscle groups, and work the core muscles last. Fatiguing your core muscles at the start of a workout may lead to poor form and injury.

You can choose to use dumbbells or other equipment at home, use your own body weight at first (such as squats or modified push-ups) or join a gym. As long as you notice that you are getting fatigued at the end of the 3rd set, you know you had the right weight/resistance. Once you can do the 3 sets easily, then it is time to increase the weight/resistance.

Here is a very simple example workout that you can start with:

Alternate sets of modified push-ups, dumbbell hammer curls, and triceps extensions

then

alternate sets of a step-ups, lunges and burpees

then alternate bodyweight squats (or hold dumbbells if you can), planking for 30 seconds and 15 sit-ups.

This should take about 1 hour with 1-2 minutes rest in between sets. Of course these strength training workouts should be changed from time to time to avoid reaching a plateau and to be sure you are working each muscle group. There are so many possibilities. You can use dumbbells or machines at a gym or simply use your bodyweight. Using your own bodyweight at first is usually a good idea.

Remember you may experience delayed onset muscle soreness the first time you work a muscle group, but it will go away with rest and will not keep happening each time you workout.

Summary and Conclusions

Now that you know the right type and amount of physical activity to do in the phase 1 program, watch the “Putting it Together” video to help you write a schedule that you can follow and that will allow you to slowly progress your physical activity to a higher level and get healthy.

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