Your workout program must contain two to three essential elements to be safe, effective, and balanced. A balanced routine reduces your risk of injuries such as strained muscles or painful joints, plus each type of exercise contributes to your overall well-being.
Aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular system and helps with weight loss or maintenance.
Resistance exercise, particularly as we age, improves muscle tone and endurance.
Flexibility exercise enhances your range of motion.
Some days your workouts will include all three components, other days, you may do only two. A balanced routine throughout the week helps you reach your fitness goals and decreases the incidence of injury.
- AEROBICS: engage in 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercises 4 to 5 days a week. Aerobics can vary from participating in your favorite group fitness class, brisk walking without the distraction of the cell phone or other mechanical devices, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, or any activity that elevates your heart rate to a level that leaves you slightly breathless but able to maintain a conversation.
- RESISTANCE & TONING: engage in toning exercises for all your major muscle groups at least three days a week, such as your shoulders, back, chest, core, glutes, arms, legs, and calves. You can take advantage of your own body weight with pushups, planks, and squats. All exercises can be modified based on your fitness level. Increasing lean muscle mass is especially beneficial for women as we age. Not only does it boost your metabolism, which turns your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine, but it also can reduce or slow the incidence of bone loss associated with osteoporosis, decrease the risk of heart disease as well as increase strength and overall confidence.
- STRETCHING: save time at the end of your aerobic and strength training workouts for stretching. Stretching your major muscle groups, including your back, chest, shoulders, arms, hips, legs, and calves is important to keeping us moving well as we age. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Add a Yoga or Pilates class to your workout regimen to improve flexibility and balance.
Here’s an example of a balanced exercise program containing all three essential elements.
Complete at least one set of 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Increase the number of sets as your strength improves. You can combine your toning regimen with your aerobic routine doing different muscle groups on different days.
Day of the Week
30-45 minutes Group Fitness/Aerobic Class
Core Exercises, Biceps, Triceps, Chest
30-45-minute Brisk Walk
30-45-minute Group Fitness Aerobic Class
Legs – Hamstrings, Quads, Calves
30-45-minute brisk walk
Full body strength both upper and lower body
Rest & relax
ADDITIONAL TIPS TO MAKING YOUR WORKOUTS WORK FOR YOU
- Drink Plenty of Water: remember the importance of hydration throughout your workout. Sip water during your workout and hydrate throughout the day. Good old fashion H2O is always the drink of choice. The basic rule of thumb unless your physician has placed you on restricted fluid regimen, is to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, a female who weighs 150 lbs. should drink a minimum of 72 ounces of water daily.
- You Are What You Eat: People with healthy eating patterns live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity make healthy food choices throughout the day. Just like a motor car needs quality fuel to perform optimally, your body also needs healthy foods to keep both mind and body running in tip top shape. A balanced diet is critical and will make a difference in your performing at your best during your workout. Balance your nutrition with a healthy food choice that includes proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Prep, plan and prepare your meals that line up with your weight management goals. Stay clear of processed foods and fad diets that offer quick results but are neither sound nor substantiable. Don’t sabotage your fitness program with bad nutritional choices!
- Sleep: Sleep allows muscle tissue time to recover between workouts. Without sleep, your muscles can’t recover from the stress you put them through during workouts. It doesn’t do you much good to keep breaking down your muscles without giving them time to recover and grow stronger. Lack of sleep may also contribute to joint pain and stiffness, as well as headaches and body aches. Sufficient sleep is also important in having the energy to exercise. Not getting enough sleep can lead to being less physically active during the day and reduced muscle strength during workouts. Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is crucial, especially if you are looking to change body composition, increase muscle mass and/or if you want to be ready for your personal training session the next day. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. Shrinking Sleep Time = Shrinking Muscles
- Cross-train: It is important to change your exercise regimen periodically to achieve the best results. Changing up your exercises, when done carefully and with your physical limits in mind, can benefit your training instead of hurting it. Our muscles get used to the same moves if performed repeatedly, potentially leading to overuse injuries. Also, if you perform the exact same routine day in and day out, you may get overconfident and attempt to use too much weight or let your attention wander, which can be dangerous. By switching up your training routine every so often, or even rotating the types of training you do every other day, you will engage and strengthen more of your muscles, giving you a better overall workout and improving your strength.
- Learn proper technique If you’re beginning a new workout regimen, take the time early on to learn proper form. This may mean working with a professional for a few sessions. Improper form, especially in weightlifting, can cause serious injuries that will cause you to halt your training. We all can benefit from a little expert assistance. Take things slow, learn how to properly execute the moves, and your hard work will pay off down the road.
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