You want to try a cross training program that incorporates a number of different activities into your exercise program. Good for you! Here’s how to get started.
Cross training expands the number of different activities you include in your fitness program. The three types of activities you need for an effective, balanced cross training program are:
- Aerobic exercises. Activities like stair climbing, walking, skating, dancing, and swimming strengthen your cardiovascular function.
- Strength training. Weight lifting, push-ups, and resistance bands challenge your muscles, helping to develop muscle strength and tone.
- Flexibility exercises. A yoga class or a routine of stretches will help to keep your muscles limber.
When you include aerobics, strength training, and flexibility exercises into your routine, you are creating a more balanced fitness program. You benefit from more comprehensive attention to your overall fitness, lower risk of an overuse injury, and the challenge of a variety of workouts that help to fend off boredom.
How to get started
- Talk with your doctor if you have any health concerns. Some activities are not a good idea for people with physical limitations. Your doctor can help you to select activities that will be safe and healthy for you.
- When you select your activities, consider what’s easily available and appealing to you. Of course jogging and weight lifting count—but so do dancing, gardening, biking, swimming, and housework. As long as your program addresses aerobics, strength, and flexibility, the details are up to you. Plan a program that you find convenient and enjoyable.
- Plan to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. If you can complete 30 minutes in one session, great! But it’s also okay to break up your activity into shorter periods, as long as your shorter sessions add up to 30 minutes at the end of the day.
- Vary your activity type from day to day. If you plan to jog on Monday, make Tuesday your day for yoga or strength training. Avoid doing the same type of activity on two consecutive days.
- Start slowly. Follow the ten percent rule: increase how often, how long, and how intensively you exercise by no more than ten percent each week. A written log or digital tool can help you record and track your progress.
The results of a cross training program may not be immediate, but over time you’ll notice an improvement in your health and overall fitness. These benefits improve your prospects for a longer, healthier, and more autonomous life.