Do you exercise regularly? Most people say that lack of time and not knowing what to do are the main reasons for not exercising. It can be intimidating to walk into a gym and see the new trend of high-intensity group exercise classes in full swing. You may see a group of people hanging from TRX ropes doing various pulling or pushing exercises. You may see people picking up tractor tires and pushing them over or a variety of other exercises that look like they are centuries old. But let’s not forget the value of the exercise machines that strengthen the body like the leg press, the upper back machine, the chest press machine and the lateral pull down machine to name a few.

Exercise doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you’re new to exercise, try using these exercise machines first before progressing to higher level, more complex, free-weight and high-intensity group fitness classes.

Exercise machines can develop a base level of strength that’s needed to participate in these higher level classes. Here are a few benefits of machine-based training from the American Council on Exercise (ACE):

Improved wellness. Exercise machines can help with weight loss, improve muscle definition, reduce stress, improve the cardiorespiratory efficiency and even help with glucose (sugar) metabolism. The exercise guidelines say that healthy adults should be participating in resistance training at least two (non-consecutive) days each week working every major muscle group at least 8 to 12 repetitions.

Combine cardio training with strength training. If you’re interested in losing weight you can add a few extra repetitions to each exercise, reduce your rest time between exercises and even increase the number of times around the exercise machine circuit. It’s best to have the exercise machines set up so they alternate between muscle groups. This gives a muscle group a chance to rest while working another muscle group. For example, use the upper back machine then use the leg press then use the chest press machine.

Exercising on your own. I prefer to exercise with a group of people but I know some people like to work out by themselves. As a fitness trainer, I don’t recommend you work out by yourself unless you know what you’re doing. If you don’t know how to properly move the free weight or the resistance band and you don’t have access to a fitness trainer, use the exercise machines. These machines usually have a fixed range of motion that will reduce your risk of injury. Always start with low resistance and progress up. Remember, your goal should be 8 -12 reps for each exercise. If you can do 12 reps easily a couple of sets, then you can increase your resistance.

Next time you go to the gym, consider the exercise strength machine circuit and enjoy!

Here’s to your great health!

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the July 6, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.