Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a gym bunny wanting to optimise your results, a well-rounded fitness training programme is essential. It’s part of what we include on all our in:spa retreats in Marrakech, Andalusia and the South of France.  But, if you want to get started at home, we recommend including these five elements to create a good, balanced routine:

  • Aerobic Fitness
  • Strength Training
  • Core Exercises
  • Balance Training
  • Flexibility & Stretching

Aerobic fitness:  Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio or endurance activity, is the cornerstone of most fitness training regimes. Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe faster and more deeply, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body. Aerobic exercise includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate, such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming or dancing. Aim for at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week.

Strength training:  Strength training at least twice a week can help you increase bone strength and muscular fitness. It can also help you maintain muscle mass during a weight-loss programme.  Most gyms offer various resistance machines, free weights and other tools for strength training. But you don’t need to invest in a gym membership or expensive equipment to reap the benefits of strength training. Hand-held weights should work just as well. Resistance bands are another inexpensive option. And don’t forget: your own body weight counts too. Try push-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.  Find out more about resistance training.

Core exercises:  The muscles in your abdomen, lower back and pelvis are known as your core muscles. They help protect your back and connect upper and lower body movements. Core exercises help train your muscles to brace the spine and enable you to use your upper and lower body muscles more effectively. So what counts as a core exercise? Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support, including abdominal crunches. You can also try various core exercises with a fitness ball.

Balance training:  As you get older it becomes increasingly important to include exercises that maintain or improve balance. It’s wise to do this because balance tends to deteriorate with age, which can lead to falls and fractures. Try standing on one leg for increasing periods of time to improve your overall stability. Activities such as tai chi can promote balance, too.

Flexibility & Stretching:  Flexibility is an important part of physical fitness.  Stretching exercises are good for increasing flexibility which, in turn, makes it easier to do activities that require greater flexibility. Stretching also improves the range of motion in your joints and promotes better posture. Regular stretching can even help relieve stress. Before you stretch, warm up by walking or doing a favourite exercise at low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes. Better yet, stretch after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching. Ideally, you’ll stretch whenever you exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly, you might want to stretch at least three times a week after warming up to maintain flexibility. Activities such as yoga promote flexibility, too.  Yoga classes are offered twice a day during in:spa retreats.  Find out more about fitness & yoga on in:spa retreats.

Cover all the bases:  Whether you create your own fitness training programme or enlist the help of a personal trainer, aerobic fitness, strength training and core exercises, balance training, and stretching and flexibility should be part of your overall exercise plan. It isn’t necessary to fit each of these elements into every fitness session, but factoring them into your regular routine can help you promote fitness for life.