Although some research indicates that pre-workout stretching can reduce muscle power and interfere with motor control, there are benefits to stretching after running. You can increase flexibility by doing stretching exercises as part of your cooldown. Continuing. Consider the following factors in making your choices:
• Fun and interest. Your fitness program is much more likely to be successful if you choose activities that you currently engage in and enjoy. Often you can modify your current activities to fit your fitness program. If you want to add a new activity to your program, try it for a while before committing to it. (See the box “Can Stability Balls Be Part of a Safe and Effective Fitness Program? ?)
• Your current skill and fitness level. Although many activities are appropriate for beginners, some sports and activities require a certain level of skill to obtain fitness benefits. For example, if you are a beginning tennis player, you will probably not be able to sustain rallies long enough to develop cardiorespiratory endurance. A better choice might be a walking program while you improve your tennis game. To build skill for a particular activity, consider taking a class or getting some instruction from a coach or fellow participant.
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• Time and convenience. You are more likely to maintain a long-term exercise program if you can easily fit exercise into your daily routine. As you consider activities, think about whether a special location or facility is required. Can you participate in the activity close to your home, school, or job? Are the necessary facilities available at convenient times (see Lab 7.2)? Can you participate in the activity year-round, or will you need to find an alternative during the summer or winter? Would a home treadmill make you more likely to exercise regularly?
• Cost. Some sports and activities require equipment, fees, or some type of membership investment. If you are on a tight budget, limit your choices to free or inexpensive activities. Investigate the facilities on your campus, which you may be able to use at little or no cost. Many activities require no equipment beyond an appropriate pair of shoes. Chapter 4 provides examples of resistive exercises you can do at home without equipment.
• Special health needs. If you have a particular health problem, choose activities that will conform to your needs and enhance your ability to cope. Ask your physician how to tailor an exercise program to your needs and goals. Appendix B provides guidelines and safety tips for exercisers with common chronic conditions.