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Everyone is always looking for the next new best thing when it comes to fitness. Remember P90X, Beachbody, PiYo? I’m not saying they aren’t good or that they don’t work, but you don’t need to be on the cutting edge of every new fitness trend to get and stay in shape.
These oldies but goodies are still some of the best ways to get fit.
Weight training builds strength, tones your body and improves your body composition (your muscle-to-fat ratio). The strength you gain with weight training is not just for lifting heavier things, it also prevents injury to your bones, joints and back. The increase in strength that applies to your bones is of particular importance to women in preventing osteoporosis. Weight training also allows your body to burn more fat because type II muscle fibers, which are the kind you build when you lift weights, improve whole-body metabolism. In fact, type II muscle fibers reduce fat in the body even without changes to your diet. You can use free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, your own body weight, or a combination. Training each muscle group (upper body and lower body) twice a week is ideal. Or a whole-body workout three times a week will do it too.
Cardio workout simply means doing a rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate into your target heart rate zone and lasts for at least 10 minutes. Running, cycling, jumping rope, speed walking and hiking are all sustained cardio workouts that have the same benefits of weight training. Plus they help reduce depression, increase lung capacity and promote heart health. You can choose which ones you like to do — doing the same activity each workout or alternating between different workouts. Consider whether specialized equipment is available to you, which will give you more options — for example, the elliptical or rowing machine and spin classes. Ideally, sustained cardio workouts last at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Remember, it needn’t be 30 minutes all at once. Three 10-minute sessions of speed walking in a day also counts!
Yoga consists of body movements combined with a system of breath control, meditation and the adoption of specific body postures, practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga coordinates your breath with your movements so both your mind and body can relax. It also stretches and strengthens the muscles to provide a feeling of calm and wellness and to help avoid injury. A regular yoga practice, one to two times per week, is ideal.
Tennis, golf, softball, soccer, ballroom dance, flag football? If you enjoyed any of those activities as a kid, you might enjoy them now. We know organized sports and activities are important for children, but they are important for adults, too. Not only do they boost physical fitness, but sports have socio-emotional benefits as well. Playing as part of a group or team boosts self-esteem and improves mental health by connecting us with others who have similar interests. Organized sports also provide the opportunity to set goals and motivate us to show up, not just for ourselves but for others. Try to participate in an organized sport you like once a week if you can.
An important part of any fitness plan is recovery time, when your body can rejuvenate and repair itself. Recovery supports the muscle building and fat burning of your workouts, helps balance your hormones and resets your central nervous system. If you work out hard, then your recovery day might be a full day off from any exercise, like a lounge day at home. If your workouts are more moderate, or you don’t work out every day, then an active recovery day will work better for you. Good exercises for active recovery days include low-intensity yoga and leisurely walking, bike riding and hiking.
Whatever activity you choose, remember to have fun!
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