We’ve talked about the health benefits of a brisk walk and how it is an effective aerobic exercise. But what about moderate activity? Moderate activity can sound intimidating at first, but moderate does not have to be hiking up a mountain. A common barrier that you may experience is that your level of fitness is not quite there yet. You may find 150 minutes to be beyond your reach, for example, or you might notice that any workout you try seems too hard.
Do not worry. Regardless of your level, from chair exerciser to athlete, you can find appropriate activities that get you closer to your health goals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend getting 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity to get cardiovascular and other physical and mental health benefits.  That works out to 30 to 60 minutes of activity, 5 days a week. More benefits may come for people who exercise even more than that.
Before you start, ask your doctor for clearance to be sure that the workouts you are planning are appropriate and safe. Then, be sure that you are following good practices. Start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down followed by stretching, and wear proper shoes and comfortable clothing.
Then, you can work on choosing a workout that is right for your level and your body. For example, if you have bad knees or ankles, you may need a low-impact impact workout, such as walking or low-impact aerobics, that does not involve running or jumping. You may need a non-impact activity, such as swimming or pilates. If you have been experiencing discomfort such as hyperventilating or burning lungs, you may simply need to lower the intensity.
Getting started with moderate workouts
- Intermediate: brisk walking, hiking on moderate terrain, gardening, doubles tennis, aerobics, water aerobics, resistance training with high repetitions and low weight.
- Advanced: running, cycling or elliptical workouts with intervals, walking or hiking uphill, singles tennis, basketball, circuit training at the gym with plyometric moves, kettlebell workouts, lap swimming step aerobics.
Know that you can modify almost any workout to your level. These are some ways to make workouts easier. If you need to make them harder, just do the opposite.
- Shorten them. For example, start with 10 minutes of a 30-minute workout.
- Take breaks. Go for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, then rest for 1 to 2 minutes or until you are recovered, then jump back in. If you are in a group fitness class, just let the teacher know before class that you may do that.
- Use lighter weights or no weights. You can go through the motions and still get a great workout if you cannot use the dumbbells or other weights with good form.
- Go hard for less time and take more rest between hard intervals. If you are doing an interval workout, do half the prescribed “hard” sections, and rest until the next one starts.
- Go easier. That can mean using less weight, walking slower, or keeping it low-impact instead of jumping off the floor.
You can work out effectively to lose weight, improve fitness, and lower risk for type 2 diabetes no matter what your fitness level is. The tricks are to stay within yourself and to not compare yourself to anyone else. Your Lark DPP is your own, personal program!