Fitness

WELL ROUNDED FITNESS ROUTINE
By Benita Perkins

I don’t know if you’ve heard the latest, but according to the medical industry, the government and pretty much all higher authorities, exercising is crucial to sustaining a good quality of life for a long time.  The other lesser know fact is that exercise is an important ingredient in the fountain of youth.  Your ability to feel and look good is a winning combination that will enhance your life for years to come.  Consequently everyone should have an exercise program that they adhere to with as much fervor as going to the hairdresser, getting a manicure and keeping lunch dates with friends.

All exercise programs should include two basic components.  These components are cardio training and resistance or weight trainingCardio training works the heart which is imperative for building and maintaining the heart muscle, and for weight loss.  Resistance training is important for maintaining metabolism, and maintaining lifestyle attributes like lifting groceries, kids and other tasks that happen around home, work or the community.

Cardio exercises involve getting the heart rate above its resting state for a specified period of time in order to make it stronger.  It is the same principal as lifting weights to improve muscle mass.  That is because the heart is a muscle.  The high rate of cardiovascular disease in the US can be attributed to the lack of cardio exercise in our society, in addition to the predisposition of certain ethnic groups like African Americans and Latinos, to fall prey to it.  That combination makes it imperative for African Americans and Latinos especially to maintain a cardio regiment including walking, swimming, or any activity that is going to raise your heart rate.

In addition to strengthening the heart, cardio exercises are the best way to lose weight.  If you have excess rolls around your stomach, abdominal crunches will not take them away.  Cardio exercises done at a target heart rate, burns that fat while crunches tone muscle.  If your cardiovascular system is compromised with heart disease or high blood pressure, your cardio exercise regime should be closely monitored by a healthcare professional to avoid overtaxing the heart.

Resistance training builds muscle mass, and/or replaces fat with muscle.  As we age we naturally lose muscle mass which is replaced with fat.  Resistance and weight training can reverse this trend, which also increases our metabolism making it easier to keep excess weight off.  The metabolism factor is because it takes more body energy to maintain muscle than fat, so the more muscle mass we have, the more energy our bodies expend to maintain it.  We mentioned crunches or abdominal resistance work above.  Any muscle strengthening regime like lifting weights and exercises that make our muscles work against gravity,  will work in tandem with your cardio workout making your time spent in the gym or with an exercise video or in the park, extremely effective!! Lastly, weight bearing exercises which create high pressure on the bones, both builds and strengthens them which helps fight against osteoporosis or weakening of the bones as we age.

Now set up an exercise schedule to incorporate cardio and resistance training.  Power walk, run, kickbox, swim, or engage in another type of cardio workout, two to three times per week for at least 30 minutes (optimally 50 minutes including warm up and cool down), and resistance training targeting all major muscle groups,  two to three times per week for at least 20 minutes.  If you can not get to a gym or do not have cardio equipment at home, use an exercise DVD or tape to guide you.  Having a mirror close by for weight work is advantageous because you can check your form.   I hope you are excited about getting started because it is easier than you think! BE consistent and focused and you will not only live a long life, but look good doing it.

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