They can help you maintain independence and mobility even as you age. No one wants to end up in a wheel chair in a nursing home.
Aerobic exercises increase your breathing, increase your heart rate, strengthen your heart, and build cardiovascular stamina. As you get your heart pumping, the amount of oxygen in your blood improves, and endorphins, which act as natural painkillers, increase. Meanwhile, aerobic exercise activates your immune system, helps your heart pump blood more efficiently, and increases your stamina over time. Examples are:
- Brisk walking, cycling, hiking, jogging, stair climbing, and using an elliptical machine.
- Disco dancing alone to music you enjoy, or fast ball room dancing with a partner – think cha-cha, mambo, quick step, samba, and Viennese waltz,
- Martial arts (which can improve muscular endurance when moves are practiced repeatedly),
- Sports (baseball, basketball, ping pong, tennis, volleyball, etc.),
Goal: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days a week. Aerobic means that the body is using oxygen to make energy, like when you run. Getting your body to sweat also helps you release toxins that would otherwise build up in your tissues.
Anaerobic Interval Training:
Research is showing that the BEST way to condition your heart and burn fat is NOT to jog or walk steadily for an hour. Instead, it’s to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. This type of exercise, known as interval training or burst type training, can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities.
Another major benefit of this approach is that it radically decreases the amount of time you spend exercising, while giving you even more benefits. For example, intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin within the exercising muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation increases weight loss. So, short bursts of activity done at a very high intensity can help you reach your optimal weight and level of fitness, in a shorter amount of time.
Exercises to help you maintain posture and prevent falls.
- Yoga, Martial arts, especially Tai Chi. Posture exercises: walk with a book on your head or heel to toe along a straight line, or try standing on one leg when on the phone or waiting in line.
Goal: Work your balance exercises into your regular strength-training, stretching, and endurance routines. Posture exercises can be done anytime and anywhere.
Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.
- Exercise programs like Pilates and yoga are great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer.
If you ever watched a cat wake up from a nap, you saw some great stretch moves. We should do the same each time we wake up.
Need ideas for a good routine? Try a fitness instructor at the Y or a health club. Many chiropractors can give you a list of ideas to keep your spine and joints limber. Or, tune in to a hatha yoga class on TV and follow the instructor.
Examples of exercises to keep your body limber and increase your range of motion.
- Ballet, Calisthenics, Martial Arts, Pilates, Yoga,
Static stretches (no bouncing, holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds)
Use a big exercise ball for stretching
It is important to stretch before and after you exercise. To avoid injury, make sure your muscles are warmed up before stretching. Try a low impact activity, such as walking for a couple of minutes before you begin.
Goal: Perform a static stretch routine each day, working each muscle group two or three times for at least 20 to 30 seconds each time.
Strength training, weight-training, and resistance trainining are all different names for programs that gradually overload your muscles to increase muscular strength and endurance. Don’t confuse them with competitive weight-lifting, where the goal is to lift as heavy a weight as possible just once.
Strength building builds muscles. Those muscles burn calories even when you’re not exercising, and that allows you to eat more without gaining weight.
Strength training also increases your bone density. As your bones adapt to weight-bearing exercise, bone density is increased. While this is vital for women, it’s also important for men.
MYTH 1: Muscle turns to fat when you stop training.
FACT: Muscle can’t turn to fat, but muscle mass can decrease if you stop training.
MYTH 2: Lifting weights makes women “big and bulky”.
FACT: Women don’t have the genetic potential to develop large muscles because they don’t have enough of the hormone testosterone that is needed for the development of muscle bulk.
Strength training exercises build your muscles so you have the strength in your arms, legs and torso to live your life independently. Examples are:
- Calisthenics – repeated exercise to develop strength, power) or weight machines that work both the upper and lower body
Cycling and Hiking – build lower body strength
Martial Arts – striking and kicking moves help develop muscular strength
Pilates, Rowing – builds upper body strength
Combining upper- and lower-body activities in your daily routine will provide an overall strengthening workout.
Goal: Build strength through resistance exercises (weights, resistance bands). Try one set of 8-12 repetitions for each muscle group, two to three times a week.
A rule of thumb: If you can’t repeat eight weight exercises in a row, the weight is too heavy, try a lighter one. If you can lift a weight more than 15 times in a row, the weight is too light – get one slightly heavier. Don’t increase the weight you lift by more than 10 percent at any time. Remember to warm up with slow movement, such as marching in place, and cool down (stretch) your muscles each time you work out. Make sure you keep at least one day in between strength training. Your muscles need time to repair and rest allows them to become stronger.
Putting together a plan
Congratulations – If you read this article, you’ve already taken the first step. Before you begin, be sure to talk with your doctor about any health conditions you might have.
You can design a plan with a fitness instructor or work on your own. Find out which areas of fitness you need to work on most, and then design a plan to meet these needs. For example, you might have great endurance but need to build strength. It is important to let your muscles rest. Injuries can be prevented by starting off slow and gradually increasing activity as your body adjusts.
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