This Page Features Interesting Facts And Info All Geared To Support You, In Your Journey To Living,
A Healthy Lifestyle!
While exercise programs often vary from person to person based on fitness levels and goals, each one should include aerobic exercise, and resistance and flexibility training. Those components will help you improve your fitness level and help you overcome obstacles that challenge your agility, balance, coordination, endurance and strength in everyday life.
A complete, safe and effective fitness program must include aerobic exercise, muscular strength and endurance conditioning, and flexibility exercise.
Aerobic exercise does good things for your cardiovascular system and is an important part of weight management. Muscular conditioning can improve strength and posture, reduce the risk of low-back injury and is an important component of a weight-management program. Flexibility exercise is needed to maintain joint range of motion and reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness.
1. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise can be as simple as walking. Walking, jogging, jumping rope and dance-exercise are good forms of weight bearing aerobic exercise, which is any activity that uses large muscle groups in a continuous, rhythmic fashion for sustained periods of time and during which the individual’s body is not supported in some fashion.
There are also non-weightbearing aerobic exercises, such as bicycling, stationary cycling, swimming and rowing.
Keep the pace comfortable. A very important aspect of your exercise program is the intensity. You should exercise at a comfortable pace. You can measure your exercise heart rate to check the intensity of your exercising, or you can take the “talk test.”
To measure your heart rate, take your pulse as soon as you stop exercising. Count your heartbeat for 10 seconds, then multiply by six to convert it to a one-minute heart rate. If you keep your exercise heart rate within a range of 55 to 90% of an estimated maximum heart rate (220 minus your age), you’re doing well.
How often should you exercise? Three to five days of aerobic activity is fine for general health maintenance. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim for five to six days a week, being sure you take off at least one day a week.
How long should you exercise? Work up to 30 or more minutes per session (or three 10-minutes sessions per day) for general health maintenance. For weight loss, gradually work up to 45 minutes or longer at low to moderate intensities in a low- or non-impact activity.
2. Strength Conditioning
Pick calisthenics, free weights or machines. Just be sure that your strength training includes exercises for every major muscle group, including the muscles of the arms, chest, back, stomach, hips and legs.
Start with a weight that’s comfortable to handle and perform eight repetitions. Gradually add more repetitions until you can complete 12 repetitions. For greater strength conditioning, add more weight and/or more repetitions, in sets of eight to 12, when the exercise becomes easy.
3. Stretching for Flexibility
Proper stretching involves holding a mild stretch for 15 to 30 seconds while you breathe normally. Always warm up before you stretch. Like strength conditioning, flexibility exercises should include stretching for all of the major muscle groups.
One Last Thing to Remember . . .
Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if you’re a man over 45, a woman over 55, or have cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of heart disease.
Circuit Training Basics
Looking for a way to infuse your fitness routine with some new energy and excitement? Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just getting started with physical activity, circuit training is a great way to challenge your body in a variety of ways while boosting the fun factor.
What Is Circuit Training?
A typical circuit training workout includes about 8-10 exercise stations. After completing a station, instead of resting, you move quickly to the next station. A muscular strength and endurance circuit alternates muscle groups, such as upper body, lower body and core, so little or no rest is needed in between stations. This article focuses on another form of circuit training: aerobic + strength. This type of circuit alternates 1-2 sets of resistance exercise (body weight, free weights, dumbbells, kettle bells, bands, etc.), with brief bouts of cardiovascular exercise (jogging in place, stationary cycling, rowing, etc.) lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Depending on your goals and the number of circuit stations, you can complete 1 or more circuits in a 30-60 minute session.
Advantages of Circuit Training
Boredom and time constraints are frequently cited reasons for giving up on a fitness routine. Sound familiar? Circuit training offers a practical solution for both. It’s a creative and flexible way to keep exercise interesting and saves time while boosting cardiovascular and muscular fitness. You’ll burn a decent amount of calories too—in a 1-hour circuit training session, a 150-pound person burns about 308 calories at a moderate intensity; and 573 calories at a vigorous intensity. Because the exercises can be performed in any sequence, you can create an endless number of combinations and design every workout to match your mood or specific training goal. Participating in a group circuit-training class is a great way to discover new exercises you might not have tried on your own.
Suppose you were told that you only had to add an extra five to 10 minutes to each of your workouts to prevent injury and lessen fatigue. Would you do it?
Most people would say yes. Then they might be surprised to learn that they already know about those few minutes, which are called a warm-up. If done correctly, a pre-exercise warm-up can have a multitude of beneficial effects on a person’s workout and, consequently, his or her overall health.
What happens in your body?
When you begin to exercise, your cardio respiratory and neuromuscular systems and metabolic energy pathways are stimulated. Muscles contract and, to meet their increasing demands for oxygen, your heart rate, blood flow, cardiac output and breathing rate increase. Blood moves faster through your arteries and veins and is gradually routed to working muscles.
Your blood temperature rises and oxygen is released more quickly, raising the temperature of the muscles. This allows the muscles to use glucose and fatty acids to burn calories and create energy for the exercise. All of these processes prepare the body for higher-intensity action.
Specifically, a gradual warm-up:
- Leads to efficient calorie burning by increasing your core body temperature
- Produces faster, more forceful muscle contractions
- Increases your metabolic rate so oxygen is delivered to the working muscles more quickly
- Prevents injuries by improving the elasticity of your muscles
- Gives you better muscle control by speeding up your neural message pathways to the muscles
- Allows you to comfortably perform longer workouts because all of your energy systems are able to adjust to exercise, preventing the buildup of lactic acid in the blood
- Improves joint range of motion
- Psychologically prepares you for higher intensities by increasing your ability to focus on exercise
Where to Begin
Your warm-up should consist of two phases:
- Progressive aerobic activity that utilizes the muscles that you will be using during your workout
- Flexibility exercises
Choosing which warm-up activity to use is as easy as slowing down what you will be doing during your workout. For example, if you will be running, warm up with a slow jog, or if you will be cycling outdoors, begin in lower gears. An ideal intensity for an aerobic warm-up has yet to be established, but a basic guideline is to work at a level that produces a small amount of perspiration but doesn’t leave you feeling fatigued. The duration of the warm-up activity will depend on the intensity of your workout as well as your own fitness level.
After the aerobic warm-up activity, you should incorporate flexibility/stretching exercises. Stretching muscles after warming them up with low-intensity aerobic activity will produce a better stretch, since the rise in muscle temperature and circulation increases muscle elasticity, making muscles more pliable. Be sure to choose flexibility exercises that stretch the primary muscles you will be using during your workout.
Make the Time
To fully reap the benefits of the time you are spending exercising, you must warm up. Taking those extra few minutes to adjust to increased activity will ensure a better performance from your body and, in turn, will make your workout more efficient, productive and, best of all, enjoyable.
Most people take part in aerobic activity to improve their cardiovascular endurance and burn fat. People weight-train to maintain lean muscle tissue and build strength. Those are the two most important elements of a fitness program, right?
Actually, there are three important elements. Regrettably, flexibility training is often neglected.
- Allows greater freedom of movement and improved posture
- Increases physical and mental relaxation
- Releases muscle tension and soreness
- Reduces the risk of injury
Some people are naturally more flexible. Flexibility is primarily due to one’s genetics, gender, age, body shape and level of physical activity. As people grow older, they tend to lose flexibility, usually as a result of inactivity, but partially because of the aging process itself. The less active you are, the less flexible you are likely to be. As with cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, flexibility will improve with regular training.
Stretch for Success
Before stretching, take a few minutes to warm up, as stretching cold muscles may increase your chances for injury. Begin with a simple, low-intensity warm-up, such as easy walking while swinging the arms in a wide circle. Spend at least five to 10 minutes warming up prior to stretching. The general recommendation for people starting an exercise program is to perform gentle dynamic-type stretches before a workout and static stretches after exercise.
When performing a static stretch:
- Take a deep breath and slowly exhale as you gently stretch the muscle to a point of tension
- Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, relax and then repeat the stretch two to four more times
- Dynamic stretches are more advanced
- and should be instructed by a qualified
- Avoid these stretching mistakes:
- Don’t bounce a stretch. Holding a stretch is more effective and there is less risk of injury.
- Don’t stretch a muscle that is not warmed up.
- Don’t strain or push a muscle too far. If a stretch hurts, ease up.
- Don’t hold your breath during the stretch. Continue to breathe normally.
Fitting Stretching Into a Compressed Schedule
Time constraints keep many people from stretching. Some complain they just don’t have time to stretch; others hurry out of their fitness classes before the cool-down exercises are completed.
Ideally, at least 30 minutes, three times per week, should be spent on flexibility training. But even a mere five minutes of stretching at the end of an exercise session is better than nothing to reduce potential muscle soreness. And all aerobic activity should be followed by at least a few minutes of stretching.
Here are some tips for fitting stretching into an overbooked schedule:
- If you don’t have time to sufficiently warm up before stretching, try doing a few stretches immediately after a shower or while soaking in a hot tub. The hot water elevates body and muscle temperature enough to make them more receptive to stretching.
- Try a few simple stretches before getting out of bed in the morning. Wake yourself up with a few full-body stretches by gently pointing the toes and reaching your arms above your head. This can clear your mind and help jump-start your morning.
- Take a stretching class such as yoga or tai chi. Scheduling a class will help you to stick with a regular stretching program.