The major medical groups list regular exercise as part of the prevention, treatment or cure of many diseases.
But men are more likely than women to meet federal guidelines for adults of at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And black women are the least likely to have a regular exercise program.
Inactive adults have a higher risk of premature death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Increasingly, research for women is showing that exercise can even help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The body has over 700 muscles attached to over 200 bones. Think about how many of them you don’t use. Exercise helps tone muscles, strengthen tendons and ligaments, increase bone density, exercise vital organs, and burn calories. Exercise also stimulates your metabolism to work faster to help maintain healthy body composition.
If you’ve never exercised or are not in good shape, get your doctor’s approval to start a program. You have to work your way through a program gradually. If you are coming back from a long layoff (more than six weeks) due to injury or similar reason, you should be extra careful and follow your doctor’s instructions.
The Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more each day. They also recommend adding resistance training.
Aerobic training works the heart, lungs and circulatory system and helps burn body fat. Resistance training strengthens muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bone tissue. Both forms of exercise are important if you want a fit and healthy body.
The word aerobic means with oxygen. Oxygen is used to generate energy during aerobic activities. To do this, the body must be in continuous motion for more than 20 minutes. Only aerobic exercise will increase cardiovascular endurance by working the heart, lungs and circulatory system.
Some examples of aerobic exercise include 20 minutes or more of brisk walking, jogging, cycling, skating, swimming, walking in a pool, aerobic dance, racquetball, and skipping rope. Workouts that include lots of stop-and-go movements will burn calories but are not considered aerobic. These include karate, volleyball, strength training, sprinting, tennis, ballet, and gymnastics.
The benefits associated with aerobic training include:
Decrease in resting heart and resting blood pressure (which allows more blood to be pumped with less effort).
Lower heart rate during physical activity and decreased recovery time after exercise.
Lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
An increase in the strength, endurance and oxygen utilization of the heart muscle (which provides more nutrients and energy to organs and tissues).
An increase in fat-burning enzymes (which help the body to break down fat).
An increase in the rate at which your body burns calories, which can last up to 12 hours.
Aerobic exercise for up to 20 minutes will work your heart, lungs and circulatory system. You don’t start burning body fat until you have 20 to 25 minutes of training. To burn significant amounts of body fat, you need to perform 45 to 60 minutes of aerobics.
If you are not working out already, it may take several weeks to reach this goal. You should start with 5 to 20 minutes of aerobic activity at a moderate pace. As your body gets stronger, you want to gradually increase your time and intensity (exertion level).
Aerobic exercise is important, but muscle building exercises are just as important for a healthy body. In fact, muscle building exercises are a necessary part of a complete fitness program because they help keep bones and joints strong enough to withstand aerobic training.
Strengthening muscles, tendons, and ligaments with resistance exercise will make you stronger and help support the skeletal system and joints. Stronger muscles, tendons, and ligaments can lower your risk of joint problems and help existing joint problems. Talk to your doctor before you start because, depending on the joint problem, resistance training can make it worse.
To stimulate the growth of muscle fibers and increase their strength, a demand must be placed on the muscle. Resistance training does this. Swedish gymnastics is a form of resistance training, but lifting weights or using training machines is more effective.
I recommend using a combination of free weights (barbells and dumbbells) and machines. Using free weights during certain exercises will give you more control over the range of motion you perform. Because machines can’t adapt to all body shapes, they don’t provide a full range of motion with every exercise. People who don’t have access to weight training equipment can improvise with sandbags, plastic bottles filled with water, or even canned food.
If you’re a beginner, get someone who knows what they’re doing to walk you through your first few workouts. Lifting weights can be dangerous if you do the exercises incorrectly. Always focus on what you are doing. Being careless and taking your movements for granted can cause injury. By focusing on each repetition as you train, you will also be recruiting more muscle fibers to work, which will make each repetition more efficient.
Basic resistance training activities include the use of Swedish gymnastics, weight training, and equipment such as exercise tubes. I like the idea of using weights because as you get stronger you need to increase the amount of weight you use. If you don’t have access to a gym, you can purchase a set of adjustable dumbbells, which will allow you to add weight as you get stronger. Also, a set of dumbbells will allow you to effectively work each part of the body.
Ideally, you should work each part of the body twice a week. Never work the same part of the body without skipping at least one day before working that part again. If you can do more than 12 reps with a given weight, you need to increase the amount of weight to effectively work that muscle group. If you cannot do at least eight repetitions with a given weight, you should reduce the amount of weight you are using. (Exceptions include strength training and pyramid training.)
You need to exercise every muscle group in the body rather than focusing on one area to balance strength and muscle growth. The overdevelopment of strength and muscle tone in one part of the body will have a detrimental effect on another part of the body.
Make sure to work the chest, shoulders, triceps, upper and lower back, biceps, abdominal muscles (stomach area), thighs (which will affect the buttocks) and calf muscles of the lower leg. Refer to an expert, such as a qualified personal trainer or exercise physiologist, to help you get started.
I highly recommend that you have a professional show you what to include in your routine and get your doctor’s approval before you begin. If you have chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypertension, arrhythmias, angina, or diabetes, they should be stable before starting an exercise program.
Always breathe properly during strength training. Inhale during the relaxation phase and exhale during the lift itself. For example, if you are doing an arm curl (bicep curl), inhale when the weight is lowered and exhale as you lift the weight. Do not exaggerate your breathing, it may cause dizziness.
Don’t let these obstacles keep you from staying in shape:
Lack of time: Plan how much time you will spend practicing.
Lack of motivation: find a training partner with the same fitness goals. You can motivate each other.
Parental Requirements: Include your children in your fitness program.
Lack of energy: A regular exercise program will increase your energy level. If you keep this in mind, it will help you overcome fatigue during your first few weeks of regular exercise.
Health concerns: Talk to your doctor about your limits and work out a good program around them.
Lack of money: Many community programs are free.
Before starting your fitness program, consult your doctor.
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