Once the reasons for exercising are clear, other factors should be considered before an individual makes her final choice. Current health andlevels need to be taken into account before an individual can decide on training goals. Allowance should be made, too, for the budget and amount of time available for exercise. Personality and personal preferences are other important factors; no form of exercise works for someone who finds it boring and skips sessions at every opportunity.
Current health and fitness levels
Assessing current fitness levels, either at home or at a gym, is necessary when planning a training programme. A thorough fitness assessment should check levels of aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance and . This indicates whether one aspect of fitness needs more attention than others, which in turn influences the choice of activity. It is possible, too, that the body may not be uniformly fit; for example, an assessment of muscular fitness may show that the lower body is quite strong whereas the upper body needs more work.
Body type is another factor for consideration. Individuals of a particular body type, may be more suited to certain activities. Some body types are said to be more suited to activities that require bounce and agility, such as aerobics and skipping, whereas others are likely to be more suited to running or racket sports or activities requiring power, such as rowing, stair-climbing and weights. If, however, an individual enjoys a particular sport, she should not worry about whether it is appropriate to her body type.
An individual who has an existing health problem needs to consider this when choosing an appropriate form of exercise; she should seek advice from her doctor.
Cost is an important factor when planning exercise, although it need not be a major one. The initial expense involved in starting some sports, such as climbing, skiing, windsurfing and golf, can act as a deterrent. Gym membership can also be expensive, often involving the payment of a large sum at the start of the year. For some people, the cost deters them from joining the gym, but for others, the fact that they have already paid acts as motivation to exercise. Some people, however, may feel guilty and unhappy if they do not use their membership to exercise regularly, so exercise becomes an indirect source of anxiety. Some gyms offer short-term membership deals and drop-in classes. Alternatively, a person who attends a regular gym class, may find that booking and paying for the next class each time she attends is a cheap and effective motivator.
For those on a limited budget, activities such as walking and running require a minimum of equipment and can be enjoyed for free. Most local authorities provide leisure centres that offer classes and activities at a cheaper rate than privately run gyms and clubs. Social team sports, such as football, softball and bowls, are usually inexpensive and the team aspect encourages regular participation. Exercising to a video at home can be a cheap alternative to attending an aerobics class. Motivation to participate regularly in free or cheap activities can be low, however. For some people, arranging regular times to exercise with others maintains motivation.
Time available for exercise
Apart from the recommendation to avoid exercising within two hours of eating a meal, there is no universally ideal time of day to exercise. The ideal time is the time that best suits each individual’s needs and situation. An exercise regime must be capable of integration into an individual’s daily life and routine. For example, a person who goes to bed late and finds it difficult to get up in the morning may find it almost impossible to adhere to an exercise plan that involves waking up early and then exercising before going to work.
Some people find that a morning workout can be energizing, giving them a good start to the day. Others may find that they are more likely to exercise regularly if they work out before they are fatigued by the stresses of the day. An added advantage of early morning exercise is that sports facilities are less likely to be overcrowded. Many people manage to fit their exercise in before going to work; others maximize their use of time by running orto work.
If there are training facilities at or near the workplace, a workout at lunchtime or straight after work may be effective for individuals who find it difficult to make time for exercise at home; others may prefer to work out at facilities close to where they live so that the journey home is minimal.
Some people use an evening workout as an opportunity to release the stresses of a busy day. Individuals who spend their day working alone at home or caring for young children may enjoy the social aspect of an evening exercise session at a club or class.
Individuals who have a busy schedule during the week may find that they have to focus on weekend exercise sessions. Someone caring for young children may also have to make the most of weekend sessions when a partner is available to babysit. If time is a problem, it is important to remember that everyday activities such as walking, gardening and housework can count as exercise, particularly if a little effort is made to increase the pace.
People who have what is known as an external locus of control, tend to work best when guided by others and may find it difficult to exercise alone; they prefer exercise that involves other people – classes, team sports or a personal trainer. People with an internal locus of control are self-motivated and prefer to be in charge of their own regime. They need to set their own goals: running, or may be good forms of exercise.
If you are highly competitive and you are using exercise as a way of relieving stress, try to avoid sports in which you are under pressure to beat an opponent. Instead opt for more meditative forms of exercise such as Yoga or Tai Chi.