Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Level Three: Workout Ideas and Recommendations
By choosing the right exercise program, you can make your natural athleticism work for you. Avoid heavy-duty exercise programs that trim off inches for a little while but may not work in the long run because they can cause burnout.
For long-term results, find activities that you enjoy, instead of merely choosing those that burn calories. You probably already know some of the activities you do and don't like, so select those you prefer and drop the ones that bore or stress you.
For instance, are you starting to dread your usual five-mile run? If so, give yourself permission to take a leisurely bike ride or swim. Too tired for a 30-minute workout? Exercise for 15 minutes, and see if you feel like continuing. And if you find yourself setting harder and harder goals ("I need to run an eight-minute mile"), reconsider your priorities. Remember that getting regular, moderate exercise is smarter and more effective than forcing yourself to do grueling workouts that can lead to injury or burnout.
You might enjoy the challenge of participating in a run or bike race for charity -- a great way to get exercise while meeting new people and helping your community. You might even want to train for a half-marathon, if running is your favorite activity. Just be sure to make fun and stress reduction-burning -- your top priorities!
Monday, January 30, 2012
Level Two: Workout Ideas and Recommendations
Think about bowling, softball, or any other type of entry-level team activity. Many people who aren't natural-born athletes love team sports because of the combination of exercise and social interaction. (Mall-walking groups offer the same benefit if you're looking for something less strenuous.)
If group activities aren't for you, start a walking routine, two or three times a week, for 15 to 20 minutes. If you feel like it, jog for a few minutes during each walk. Do a few jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups -- along with stretches -- in the morning before work. Jump rope with your kids or buy yourself a Hula Hoop. Take an in-line skating class, or start going out dancing occasionally with friends.
Dance, tai chi, and yoga classes are enjoyable, low-stress fitness activities. Also, consider buying several exercise tapes and try out fun activities including biking, swimming, horseback riding, or even a regular game of Frisbee with your dog.
Focus, above all, on giving yourself permission to enjoy your physicality. If you can, start getting regular massages. If you belong to a gym, don't feel you must do a strenuous workout every time you're there. Try going occasionally just for the enjoyment of stretching for several minutes and then taking a Jacuzzi, steam, or sauna bath. You'll learn to reconnect with your physicality and rediscover your body as a source of pleasure.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Level One: Workout Ideas and Recommendations
Begin by expanding your definition of exercise: You don't need to run, sweat, or grunt -- any opportunity to partake in activity counts as exercise!
If you feel uncomfortable going to a gym, a 10-minute walk, twice weekly, is an excellent first step toward better fitness. If you enjoy and can afford it, get a regular massage as well. Consider buying a good beginner's exercise tape, too. (A tip: rent exercise videos from your local library and try them out to see which you enjoy.) Another great activity is gardening, an underrated form of stress reduction and exercise.
Get in touch with your physicality by using a Jacuzzi or sauna after a cool shower, or just by taking a bubble bath. Afterward, try some gentle stretching, perhaps followed by another cool-down shower and Jacuzzi. A facial is another good way to reconnect your physical and mental being.
If you feel daring, consider karate, a dance class, or bowling. Enjoy the activities you pick, but don't make yourself continue with them any longer than you want to; for instance, don't force yourself to bowl three games if you feel like bowling only one. Remember that your goal is to make yourself healthier and fitter by nurturing yourself and reducing stress.
Have a WONDERFUL weekend!
Friday, January 27, 2012
What is basal metabolic rate?
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which your body burns calories just to sustain life. For most people, that's roughly 50 to 80 calories per hour, or 1,200 to 1,920 calories per day. Exactly what your BMR is depends on genetics, your muscle mass, and other factors.
Of course, you burn more calories when you exercise -- or just go about the activities of daily life. For example, if you work out at the gym for 60 minutes and burn 400 calories, that comes in addition to whatever your BMR burns up. (If you walk home from the gym instead of driving, you'll burn even more!) At the end of the day, if your total energy expenditure is greater than the number of calories you've eaten, you'll lose weight.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
What's the difference between the fat-burning mode and the cardio mode on the machines at the gym?
There are problems with the fat burning option on the cardio machines, and it really ought to be eliminated. The idea behind the fat burning option is this: Because fat is denser than carbohydrate, it requires more oxygen to burn. So, to maximize the percentage of fat you burn, compared to carbohydrate, the fat-burning mode would have you work out at a pace at which your body can deliver lots of oxygen to your muscles. That generally means a slow pace, to keep you from getting breathless. The problem is that when you exercise at a slower speed, you burn fewer total calories -- from both carbohydrate and fat -- because you simply don't do as much work. Further, the way to get aerobically fit is to get your heart rate into the training range (usually 60% to 85% of your maximum heart rate), which is hard to do at slower speeds. And fitness is ultimately what you're after, whether your goals are better health, burning calories, or improving heart and lung capacity.
The bottom line is that the fat burning mode probably won't be intense enough to maximize total calorie- or fat-burning, or to help you increase or maintain optimum fitness levels. Use the cardio mode to maximize your exercise benefits.
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