Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Melissa's tip of the Week is designed to help you and your family live happier, healthier lives.
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What does it take to get fit?

When planning your fitness program, how do you know how much is enough to get fit?

Most people beginning an exercise program have trouble knowing where to start.  How often should they work out?  How long should each workout be?  What types of exercise should be incorporated?  And because of these questions, many fail to create a new habit of regular exercise.  So below, I've listed some very basic guidelines, to help you determine if your program has the right balance to keep you going strong, and becoming fit.

1.  Aim for 4-5 workouts per week, and daily exercise is even better.
2.  Vary the types of workouts that you do each day.
3.  Try to get one of these three types of workouts into your week:
     a.  Cardio; working your heart and lungs.
     b.  Strength; weight lifting, weight bearing exercise for strong muscle growth and strong bones.
     c.  Restorative/Flexibility;  yoga, Pilates, and basic stretching to restore your flexibility and recover.
All three of these components are important, because they do work differently on your body.  It's very common though, to see people who only do Yoga, or people who focus too heavily on cardio or strength.  Balance is the key.  We work the heart and lungs through cardio, aiming to strengthen blood vessels, increase capillary density (which delivers more blood more efficiently to the extremities, increasing circulation), and increase your oxygen uptake.  It also burns calories right now, today, while you are working out.  Yea!

Strength training focuses on your skeletal muscles, increasing strength, and building a beautiful, toned body.  This is where we are shaping your body, sculpting it to the shape you desire.  Stimulating the muscles with resistance helps us to burn calories now, but even more later.  This occurs because when we push our bodies past comfort into fatigue, we are actually tearing the muscle fibers apart (sounds awful, but is part of the process of getting stronger).  Our bodies repair the tissue, and make it stronger.  It's like your body is saying: "If she's going to do this, then we had better prepare!"  This process gives us an "afterburn" effect.  You burn more calories over the next 24 hours or so, as your body works on this repair.  However, if you keep working on lifting daily, without changing up the muscle groups, this can be too much for your body; It doesn't have time to repair, and instead you break it down too much, and end up with a higher possibility for injury.

The third key component to fitness is flexibility.  Once we've tighten those muscles with weight lifting, and strengthened the heart, lungs and circulatory system, we need to restore our bodies with a bit of rest and flexibility training.  Tight muscles cause pain, and limit range of motion.  A yoga or stretch class, Pilates, or other mind body type class can help you to ease those issues, as well as helping you get in touch with what your body needs.  Increased body awareness can help you be in tune with how to keep your body in optimum health.

An ideal week might look like this:
Monday:  Strength/Weight lifting, 45min. to 1 hour + 5- 10 min stretching
Tuesday:  Cardio (walking, jogging, cycling, etc.), 30-45 min + 5-10 min stretching
Wednesday:  Strength, 45 min to 1 hour +5-10 min stretching
Thursday:  Cardio, 30-45 min +5-10 min stretching
Friday:  Strength, 45 min to 1 hour + 5-10 min stretching
Saturday:  Yoga class, 1 hour
Sunday:  Off, have fun!  Go for a walk with your dog, a light bike ride outside--it's your day!

I realize our lives are not ideal.  Use the above a basic guideline to help you get your program on task and well balanced.  Examine what you're doing, and see where you might be able to make some small adjustments.  And you can always ask me:)

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