Some trial and error may be necessary in determining the amount of time needed for exercising. At first, repetitions should be in short series, after which the principle of overload dictates a gradual set-up. Particularly at the beginning, those who have not exercised much for years should consider cowardice the better part of fitness valor.
Instead of starting with 45-minute sessions that include a mile run, a 3-minute session including a run of a block or two may be adequate. Once it has been established that such minimal achievement levels do not cause overstrain, the program’s general shape should be maintained until the specific short-term goals have been reached.
For those on better condition, a faster start is more appropriate. Again, the rule requiring regularity in all the basic phases of the program should be observed.
Mealtimes should be carefully considered in scheduling the daily exercise round. Most authorities believe that engaging in vigorous exercise within an hour before or after a meal may interfere with the digestive processes. That suggests that the exercise time should start at least an hour to an hour and one-half after eating. Conversely, one should allow at least an hour between an exercise session and the next meal.
Some other factors are important. Exercises taken immediately before bedtime may interfere with relaxation, and sleep, through stimulation of the adrenalin flow. Late-evening exercises should, in fact, be followed by an hour or so period of winding down. At other times of the day, the winding down period may be somewhat shortened, and may often be dispensed with altogether.
A psychological element appears to enter into the choice of time during the day. Many persons feel that by scheduling the fitness session in the early morning, they can “get it over with” and thus avoid having other responsibilities of the day interfere with exercising. Others prefer the noon hour. Some like the later afternoon, when the exercise round provides a break in the day’s routine. The late afternoon session acts as a kind of afterwork, before-dinner tonic for many persons.
An orderly, systematic approach to exercising calls for establishing a special time during the day for working on fitness. The principle of repetitiveness and its corollary—overload—are also founded on the idea of system and regularity.
Most fitness authorities even suggest that system ought to govern the order in which exercises are taken. One version of an exercise circuit for ten different parts of the body is illustrated here. Each person has options here: depending on personal fitness goals, other exercises may be more appropriate for the same circuit.
The systematic approach should also govern decisions on the numbers of repetitions for each exercise.