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Personally, making the time is the most difficult part of exercise for me. There is always something more pressing that needs to be done, or so I think. Knowing what to do, and how much to do it can improve your efficiency and possibly make exercising regularly seem more attainable.
What is exercise? It is important to understand what you are doing when you exercise. We can define it as “any activity requiring you to generate force by using your muscles,” according to Dr. Knuttgen of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The more force you apply, the more exercise you get. Aerobic or cardiovascular workouts call for moving your body, as in walking, running etc. Strength building workouts require moving an object, as in weight lifting or using resistance machines.
But how much aerobic exercise should I do? Exercise shouldn’t be effortless, but it shouldn’t bring you to the edge of collapse. This is different for everyone depending on your level of fitness. Our body will offer us clues. The most common suggestion of how to measure is whether or not you are able to have a conversation while walking or running. If you can’t, you are probably exercising too strenuously to keep going for 30 minutes.
Three times per week for 20 to 30 minutes is optimal for maintaining a reasonable level of fitness. Daily would be even better.
How about strength training? It is so important for bone health, balance, and overall muscle tone. The effectiveness for any strength training is based on the amount of weight you lift and how many times you are able to lift before fatigue sets in. (repetitions). If you are lifting a weight 20 times without any problem your muscles are not working much, or gaining strength. Optimum levels are 5 to 15 repetitions and doing that 2 to 4 times, resting between the sets of 5 to 15. Once 15 repetitions become easy, it’s time to add more weight. Progress!
Should I join a gym? Possibly yes, some health plans subsidize memberships. Even if yours doesn’t, it may save time to have a trainer get you started on an exercise program that is efficient and organized. This may help you stay motivated and accountable. It becomes easier to track your progress.
So, grab a friend and get moving! It is imperative for total fitness to include both aerobic and strength training. It can be fun and you will feel so much better. You will sleep better, have an improved mood, and feel more energetic and youthful.
(Harvard Med School women’s health)