The perfect exercise: Achieving your fitness goals

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People may choose to exercise for different reasons, but staying committed to a regular fitness routine is not always easy. Without doubt, the key to motivation and sticking exercise is to take up an activity that you find enjoyable. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on the right type of fitness regime for you.

Exercise options and considerations

Whatever your fitness goals may be, first consider the following:

And then think about the costs involved and whether you want to financially commit to that fitness plan.

Choosing a physical activity you enjoy can help you stay committed to a regular exercise routine.

A gym membership can be an expensive commitment but could be just what you are looking for. Specialised equipment can offer variety to your day-to-day workout and many gyms offer instructor-led fitness classes and personal training assistance. Specialised equipment makes it easy to target muscle groups, set personal goals and see stats about the effort you are putting in. Additional membership benefits may include access to facilities such as saunas, showers or pools. Some gyms are open 24 hours.

If you're after a more specific type of activity such as yoga, kickboxing or pole-dancing, you can opt to join a club, centre or studio that specialises in it. Keep in mind however that these options may require a payment of upfront joining/ administration fees in addition to a membership fee. And if you're after additional services, such as one-on-one personal training services, you may incur further costs.

Luckily, exercise doesn't have to cost a lot - simply head outdoors! Jogging, cycling, kayaking or hiking are minimal-cost activities you could participate in. Go with a friend or family member, or seek out groups or communities in your area. Perhaps join an online community of fellow enthusiasts: Web sites like MapMyRun or Run Rabbit (available in mobile app as well) allow you to share favourite exercise routes and tips with others.

And for those with a competitive streak, look into joining a local sports team. Social basketball, hockey, touch football or soccer can be a great for exercise, fun and meeting new people. Many team sports don't cost much to participate in and if you're in a formal sporting club, membership fees would cover venue hire, uniform, competition joining fees and more.

Exercising goals

The ideal exercise largely depends on your personal fitness goals. Whether it's losing weight, de-stressing, strengthening your body or toning up muscles, certain activities are tailored to those specific goalsi.

If you want guidance and motivation when exercising, consider signing up for an instructor-led class.

Regular aerobic exercise can help build stamina and enduranceii. Also known as cardiovascular exercise or cardioiii, aerobic exercise gets your heart pumping and the blood flowingiii. Running, skipping, rowing, dancing and boxing are all good cardio exercises - anything that gets you moving fast. Cardio said to also be beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenanceii.

Strength training can help improve muscle strength and tone. Forget about body builders, regular strength training at an appropriate weight is said to be beneficial for men and women of all agesiv. It's not about being able to bench-press as much as you weigh; it's about improving posture, mobility, balance, metabolism, and your muscle-to-fat ratiov. In the gym or at home, strength training exercises can be performed with free weights or machines that work on particular muscle groupsv. Beyond the gym, you can use your own body weight or a resistance band in exercises. Resistance exercises include push ups, sit ups and squats.

Yoga and Pilates are gentle forms of exercise that will boost flexibility, posture, strength and combat stressvi. Yoga focuses on posture and the breath, and can be a powerful form of meditation. Yoga therapy can be great for injury rehabilitationvii and is good for burning the caloriesviii. There are different types of yoga, including Bikram Yoga classes which are done at 40 degrees Celsiusix. Pilates is similar to Yoga in many ways: it also improves strength, body awareness, flexibility and balancex, but Pilates tends to focus on abdominal muscle (core) strengthx.

Maintaining a healthy way of life requires ongoing commitment. It's easier to stay committed to a fitness regime that you find rewarding and when you set yourself achievable, healthy goals. Taking out a life insurance policy can provide long term financial security for your family in the event of serious illness, disability or death. Visit Allianz for an online quote and make the first step towards your health commitment today.

i Coleman, N., How to choose the right exercise for you, Mail Online,

i Good Health Australia, 2011, The benefits of cardio exercise,

iii Mueller, J., Nicholas, N., Reference Guide to Aerobic Exercise,

iv Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Growing Stronger - strength training for older adults,

v Better Health Channel, Resistance Training - health benefits,

vi Better Health Channel, Yoga - health benefits,

vii Health and yoga, Chronic injury and yoga rehabilitation,

viii Clement, S., 2011, The calories burnt in bikram and hot yoga,

ix Stebbins, K., 2011, Temperature of a Bikram Yoga Studio,

x Better Health Channel, Pilates - health benefits,