The Internet is loaded with information about exercise. At this time of year, every magazine advertises their “magic” exercise program to lose weight and more. Some programs claim ways to burn fat, while others are designed to improve your strength or flatten your abs. Some experts believe cardio is most important, others promote strength training, while still others tout yoga or Pilates as the best.
As I have said before, there are no good or bad exercises (as long as they are safe). You need to do what works for your body and what you enjoy. If you hate, running – don’t do it. In general, though, a well-rounded fitness regime should include three components: cardio, resistance, and flexibility training. Below is a summary of each component and why it is important.
Cardio work is exercise that gets your heartrate up. It is training your heart to be more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. Regular cardio work makes it easier to perform daily activities like walking upstairs or cleaning house, and it lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. Your goal should be to perform cardio work 5-7 days per week for at least 30 minutes. These 30 minutes can be at one time, or broken into 10 minute increments several times a day.
Resistance or strength training is the exercise that places external stress on your muscles and joints. Your body responds to this work by increasing its bone density and its lean muscle mass. By increasing your muscle mass, you increase your metabolism. Since muscles burn calories, the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn. Experts recommend performing eight to ten strength training exercises two to three times per week. Resistance exercises can include body-weight exercises, dumbbell exercises, resistance tubing exercises, kettlebell workouts, and more. Strength training helps with your stability and strength for all your daily life activities such gardening, laundry, or lifting kids or grandkids.
Flexibility training is often overlooked, but it is equally (or maybe more) important as cardio or strength work in your fitness program. Lack of flexibility is associated with poor posture and sometimes pain. Without flexibility exercises, you begin to lose your range of motion which affects even the simplest daily routines. To improve your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion, perform a stretching routine two or three times per week. Focus on stretching a large muscle group such as hamstrings and hip muscles, lower back and chest to reduce the impact of daily lifestyle activities like sitting or standing.
After you find a fitness program that you like, make sure to change it up periodically to prevent boredom and encourage progress. Try different activities or classes to see what you enjoy the most. If you enjoy the exercise activity that you are participating in, you are more likely to establish a long term commitment to and remain consistent in your exercise program. Regardless of your fitness level, each program can be adapted to your current wants and needs. If you are uncertain of where to begin, hire a certified personal trainer. This will ensure that you learn proper form and technique.
For more information, contact Janet Hunt, ACE Certified Personal Trainer at 256-614-3530.
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.
By: Janet Hunt