Experts around the West say start slow, work up, and get fit with friends

Lisa Taggart

Regular exercise can add years to your life, largely by keepingheart disease at bay. The trick, as we all know, is simply to getmoving. But on some days that seems especially hard: It's cold,you're busy, your routine is out of whack. What to do when you'vegot the workout blues? Here are some tips from the pros.

Take 10 minutes
"Look at incremental gains ― don't start off trying todo too much. I know you hear it's best to exercise for at least 30minutes, but sometimes you don't have that; a 10-minute walk isgood for you too. You don't have to invest a lot in workout gear.Just make sure you have comfortable shoes that provide adequatesupport."
― Helen Harris, hiking coach, Leukemia and LymphomaSociety, San Jose

Allow yourself to be a beginner
"Part of what makes it difficult is the expectation that youhave to be good, have to be flexible, have to perform as well asothers around you. Let go of those expectations and let yourselfmake mistakes."
― Jennifer Preisler, co-owner and instructor, Yoga in thePearl, Portland

Set goals, exercise with friends
"It's good to have an event that you're training for. For thebeginning running groups I coach, we set a 5K event as a target,and train for it over 12 weeks, starting out with walking and shortrunning intervals. I find the biggest reason my running classes aresuccessful is group support. Have a coach, have peers looking foryou to show up. The women in the classes feed off each other'senergy. And it's much better to talk things over during a run thanover a croissant."
― Carol Rewick, owner of Fleet Feet Vacaville and coachfor Running for Women, Vacaville, CA

Make your workout portable
"Take your stretch Thera-Band on the road while traveling.(These used to be known as physical therapy rehab bands.) They arelight and can fit easily into a weekend or overnight bag, and youcan bring several bands of different resistances to work your upperbody and lower body. The bands can be affixed to a hotel doorknobas easily as a tent stake or branch in the backcountry."
― Ashley Woods, owner and climbing school director, theSpot Bouldering Gym, Boulder, CO

Your target heart rate

Most experts agree we should exercise at least three times aweek for 30 minutes. More activity is even better: Dutchresearchers recently found that the equivalent of a half-hour runfive days a week can add nearly four years to your life. To get themost out of it, gradually increase your exertion level until you'vereached your target heart rate, which is between 50 and 75 percentof your maximum heart rate (your age subtracted from 220). To findout if your heart rate is within target range, check your pulse bycounting your heartbeats for 15 seconds, then multiplying byfour.

A heart-rate monitor is a great tool if you'd rather skip themath. Held in place with a band worn around your chest, it detectsyour heart rate and automatically displays it on a watchlikewristband. Monitors cost from $60 for a basic model to $450 forversions with features such as satellite software that tracks yourdistance and pace. Before setting out on an exercise regime,consult your doctor if you're on high blood pressure medication orhave other health conditions that may affect your exercise program.For more guidelines and a heart-rate chart, visit andsearch for "target heart rate."

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