Column: Start slow in cardiovasular conditioning

Summer is a great time to start a program of body conditioning. The reasons for starting a fitness program have been around for years. The cardiovascular conditioning, the flexibility and strength increases are just a few of the good reasons to take up exercise. Most of us find medical statistics boring. But, just for instance, let's suppose that you have never exercised, that you have NEVER done anything harder than spit. And suppose for some reason you find yourself in an exercise class.

How slow is slow enough? What is a safe level for a beginner? And what can you expect if you do succeed in lasting the hour?

If you have never exercised, relax! You have no bad exercise habits to change and no arguments about right and wrong on exercise moves. Consider yourself a blank page. At first you will have trouble even doing a fast walk and problems with tight hamstrings. And you will not be able to do even one pushup. Don't be alarmed, you can be fixed!

Three months, give or take a month, will remedy the situation. Close your eyes to the time and keep exercising.

You can't go slow enough if you are a true beginner. Building the body up in a total conditioning program takes time, and it takes s-l-o-w time. If you go at it too hard, you will set yourself back several days. Don't do anything to the full measure. If you are doing knee bends, do them half way the first few weeks. It's better to do only a few movements slowly than to try to keep up by doing uncoordinated, unsafe moves.

There will always be the advanced fitness student; every class has one. They are the students who know what they are doing. But they got that way the same way you will if you stay with it.

Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.

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