Sports Bra

Working out might make you seek a burning sensation in your muscles and lungs, but the one place where you don’t want to feel anything uncomfortable is your chest.  Investing in a good sport bra – or two or three – is one of the most important things you can do as a woman beginning a fitness routine.  It doesn’t matter, either, whether you are well-endowed or not, although admittedly, those who are very well-endowed may have to shop a specialty store or online to find the right size.

When buying a sport bra, getting the right size is everything.  You really must be able to try it on in person, so if you have to order it online because of size needs, make sure the store has a return or exchange policy.  A sport bra that doesn’t fit right can affect your ability and your willingness to keep working out.

There are three main different kinds of sport bras: compression bras, encapsulation bras, and shimmels.  Compression bras press your breasts against your body to minimize bounce.  They go on and off over your head and work best with women who have A or B cup breasts.

Encapsulation bras are better for women with larger breasts.  Because they have individual cups, they often look more attractive.  They typically come with a clasp or hook closure.  For even better support, look for ones with webbing in the cups or underwire.

Shimmels are tank tops with built-in bras.  They may look great and keep you from showing a bra strap in the summer, but for all but the lightest of workouts, they are not very effective.  Use these types of sport bras for activities like yoga.

When shopping for your sport bra, be sure to look for a bra that has wider shoulder straps.  The wider the straps, the more comfortable the bra will be and the less likely it will be to cut into your skin.  Make sure the arm holes fit properly – the material should not rub against your arm or armpit at all.  Finally, make sure the sport bra is made of a material that wicks away moisture.  Cotton, although a soft material, holds water and can be very uncomfortable if you plan on breaking a sweat.  Make sure whatever enclosure the bra uses has material over it to protect your skin.

Once you find a bra you like, you may be tempted to buy several so that you don’t have to shop for them again soon.  My advice is to wait – all that exercise you are doing is bound to bring you down a size or two.  Save the shopping for celebrating your new size!

sports bra 300x300 Sports Bra

Benefits of aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is critically important to a woman over 40.  Not only does it increase metabolism, burn extra calories, and improve your well-being but it improves your heart health and is even associated with prolonging your mental capacity and staving off conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  You should never begin an aerobic exercise plan however, without consulting with your physician and making sure you are healthy enough to handle the exertion.

New studies have shown that aerobic exercise will help to keep your body fit and strong to help you in the fight against such diseases like colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.  It is good for preventing osteoporosis and can help those who suffer from depression.  It has even been found to be a significant help to those with diabetes.

When you add aerobic exercise to your fitness plan, you should keep certain goals in mind.  First of all, you need to know your resting heart rate (the rate at which your heart beats when you are being completely sedentary).  Second, you need to determine your target heart rate (the rate at which you need to elevate your heart rate in order to get the most benefit from the aerobic exercise).

The average 40-year old woman’s target heart rate can be anywhere from 88 to 150 beats per minute.  Your physician will help you determine if your target should be higher or lower, but when you exercise, your goal is to get your heart rate up to your target and then keep it there for at least 40 minutes.  Aerobic exercise is most effective when done five days a week but will be helpful regardless of how little you are able to add to your fitness plan.

Aerobic exercise can be done in many ways.  Cycling, running, swimming, walking on a treadmill, going for a jog, or working out to a fitness video doing aerobics or kickboxing or any number of exercises can all qualify.  Choose something you know you will enjoy doing; do a variety of different aerobic exercises to maintain your interest level.  Be sure you drink plenty of water an hour to two before your workout.

Aerobic exercise can improve your energy level and give you more energy throughout the day.  It also ensures that you burn a lot of calories quickly, keeping your metabolism up and running.  Combined with strength and toning exercises, you will quickly see positive changes in both your physical and mental health.

Fitness Equipment

The fitness industry is an $80 billion dollar a year industry.  Ironically, more people than ever are obese, out of shape, overweight, or struggling in some way with their health.  The problem seems to be that we like to buy exercise equipment much more than we like to use it.

If you are going to buy a piece of exercise equipment, whether it’s an exercise bike, treadmill, elliptical, at-home gym, or weight bench, the first thing you need to do is research.  Luckily, your research can be done online, doesn’t take much time, and can give you tremendous insight before you go shopping.

When you are researching a piece of exercise equipment, don’t make the assumption that the more you spend the better the equipment will be.  In fact, there are quite a few seemingly “low-end” pieces of exercise equipment that work as well if not better than there thousand-dollar counterparts.  What matters most is whether or not the equipment will meet your needs.  Will it hold your weight?  Will it fit in the space you have available?  Does it have the “bells and whistles” that you think are critically important?

Obviously, once you start shopping around for equipment, you will get a better idea of what exactly you want and don’t want in what you buy.  Buying online without seeing the equipment in person, however, is ill-advised.  Especially if you are buying a treadmill, elliptical, or an exercise bike, you will want to be able to climb on the equipment and try it out.  Is it adjustable, especially if more than one person will be sharing it?  Can you use it comfortable without feeling strained?  Does it have any pre-programmed exercises or health monitoring equipment (if that is important to you)?

Before buying any exercise equipment, you should firmly establish your budget.  You may go in knowing exactly what you want only to have a sales person convince you that for an extra hundred dollars you could have even more bells and whistles than you wanted in the first place.  If you go in knowing exactly how much you want to spend and stick to it, you will be more satisfied with your purchase in the end and have money left over for workout clothing.

One last thing you should do before buying equipment is to check the feedback the equipment has received online from other purchasers.  Thanks to the internet, consumers are more capable of letting each other know what brands or products to stay away from; you can get a lot of information by reading the feedback others give the equipment.  Always read more than just the first few – look for some who have had the equipment for a while to make sure it keeps working and isn’t prone to breaking quickly.

Why Lose Weight?

weightloss 300x200 Why Lose Weight?First of all, there is no food group that should be cut out of your diet totally. Your body needs a diet that includes complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and some fat. A complex carbohydrate is a baked potato, fat is the sour cream and butter you should not put on it. Fiber is vegetables, fat is the oil you should not fry them in. Protein is a lean cut of meat, fat is the gravy you should not pour over it.

Do not get caught up in the whole fat-free trap. One of the greatest delusions to hit the industry is that no fat means not fattening. The truth is, you are often getting just as many calories from the no-fat version, even if the calories are not coming from fat. The term fat-free can be a trap if you trick yourself into believing that you can eat any amount of the foods that are advertised that way.

Never skip a meal in favor of eating snacks it is is the worst thing you can do if you are trying to control your eating habits and weight.

Why do we spend so much time talking and thinking about our weight? This is because there so many benefits to be gained from loosing those excess pounds.  Here are a few of the remarkable advantages;

Loose weight to prevent high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Excess weight creates a breathing ground for these three conditions. In fact heart disease and stroke are one of the primary reasons for disability and death in both men and women in the US.  Excess weight leads to higher levels of cholesterol in your blood stream as well as triglycerides. Heart disease as we know can lead to sudden death.

Experts say that by reducing your weight by a mere five to ten percent could positively decrease the chances of you having or developing heart disease or having a stroke.  Improvement would also be seen in the functioning of your heart, improvement in your blood pressure as well as cholesterol and triglyceride count will decrease.

Loose weight to prevent type 2 diabetes

Apart from jeopardizing your life type 2 diabetes also affects the quality of your life due to the resultant complications associated with the disease. Both types, 1 and 2 linked are with excess weight. If you are already a diabetes sufferer, then loosing weight in addition to your regular medication can help to control your blood sugar levels.

Loose weight to reduce cancer risk

Links have been identified between excess weight and certain types of cancers. This is especially so for women. The common types of cancers facing overweight women include ovarian, uterine, colan, breast, and gallbladder.  This is for information purpose, not to scare you, after all, knowledge is power.

Loose Weight to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea

This is a condition where a person stops breathing temporarily then continue to snore heavily.  This can lead to a feeling of lethargy and listlessness. Being overweight can exacerbate this problem.

Loose Weight to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis

Excess weight exert double or triple pressure on the joints, knees, hips and lower back as you go about your daily activities of walking and moving around.

The most important thing to realize is that no matter what the specified weight is for your height, you need to work on achieving “your” ideal weight – a weight where you are comfortable with your body and feel like you have the energy and fitness to do the things you want to do with your life. This means you need to focus on healthy weight loss, you’re not trying to be that girl in the magazine who’s had 20 pounds airbrushed off of her; you’re just trying to be your very best YOU.

Fitness Blueprint

Many women want to improve their health and well being but don’t know where to start.  It can seem so overwhelming.  Searches on the internet bring up millions of different options, and it can become so daunting that you just put it off for another day.  Unfortunately, if you’re already approaching 40, you can’t afford to put off your health.  You need to start focusing on you.

fitness blueprint 300x220 Fitness Blueprint

One of the best ways of getting started is to create a personal fitness blueprint or map.  This fitness map is a plan that will encompass some of the areas of health that a woman would need to consider, including physical needs like exercise and flexibility as well as mental and emotional health considerations.

In Building your own fitness map, a great place to begin is with our fitness audit.  If you have not already taken the fitness audit, you can do so here. The audit will help you identify areas of focus – and don’t worry if every area is an area of focus for you.  This is an ongoing process, there is no hurry. To truly love yourself, you should focus on every aspect of your health, well-being, and happiness.

Within your fitness blueprint, you should focus on areas for flexibility, strength training, nutrition, diet, cardiovascular fitness, emotional fitness, and mental health.  Under each of these main sections, you can develop specific goals.  For instance, if you are more focused on weight loss, you might develop your cardiovascular and diet and nutrition areas of your map more than other areas.  If you are experiencing a great deal of stress, you might focus more on the mental health areas.

Ultimately, as you conquer sections of the fitness blueprint, you will develop other areas, until you have a well-rounded, all-encompassing plan for maintaining your health as you age.  You’ll develop new goals as you accomplish the old ones and change goals that become less important as other aspects in your life change.

Your fitness blueprint should be a very personal thing, that is, it should look like what you want it to look like.  Your fitness blueprint may not look like mine.  You may want to keep yours in pages of a journal; you might be a list maker or use spreadsheet software to develop your plan.  However you decide to create it is great as there is no wrong way.  It’s in the making of the blueprint that you learn the most about what you want and need to improve your health.

Dumbell arm exercises

Incorporating a series of low-weight, high repetition arm exercises into your fitness plan can do more than just help you look good in sleeveless blouses and sundresses. According to a study completed by university researchers in Phoenix, women can use weight lifting as a positive method for building bone mass, muscle strength, and preventing the onset of osteoporosis.

As women age and their hormones change with the onset of perimenopause, maintaining bone density becomes a critical issue.  Women who don’t maintain muscle in their arms may eventually find that even every day tasks like lifting, turning, and pulling difficult.

Often women avoid showing their arms because of unsightly jiggle that occurs in the upper arm.  Most women assume that to tighten that area, they should increase the number of triceps-focused exercises they do.  Unfortunately, the triceps is a relatively small muscle, and this misconception can be frustrating for the woman who wants attractive and healthy looking arms.

bicepcurl 300x237 Dumbell arm exercisesWhen doing arm exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions, it is important to be sure you are using the proper technique in order to avoid straining your elbow joint.  For bicep curls, stand comfortably with your feet shoulder-width apart.  As you lift the dumbbells, keep your elbows close to your body and make sure your wrists stay straight.  When you lower the weight, be sure to do so in a slow and methodical way so that you don’t strain the muscle on the way back down.

Tricepextension 200x300 Dumbell arm exercisesWhen doing a tricep extension, hold the dumbbell securely over your head, wrist stiff and palm facing in.  Gently bend your elbow to no more than a 45 degree angle and then lift again.  Move slowly and carefully, alternating between arms.

While bicep and tricep exercises are important, the best way to exercise your arms is to ensure that your fitness routine contains plenty of cardiovascular exercise as well.  Walking, swimming, and bike riding can all greatly benefit your overall health and your arms in particular.  In addition, specific exercises that focus on both biceps and triceps are important to ensure that your arms look spectacular.  Yes, you should work your triceps, but you should also do bicep curls, shoulder raises, and most of all, pushups.

Pushups are one of the most effective and efficient upper body exercises you can add to your fitness routine.  Not only do they work most of the major muscle groups of the upper body, but they can be done anywhere, without any equipment.  If you want your arms to look beautiful all year round, make pushups a main player in your fitness routine.

Swimming for fitness

For women who are heavier, for those who struggle with joint or bone difficulties, and for those who suffer from chronic pain or have arthritis or arthritic conditions, physical exercise may be something you can only contemplate with pain.

However, those sufferings will only become worse with time if you don’t begin being more active.  Swimming is one of the best ways to increase your physical activity without risking injury to an already aching body.  In fact, women of all ages benefit from swimming and the low-impact, high-resistance workout you can get in a pool.

Swimming for exercise does not necessarily imply getting up at the crack of dawn and doing laps at the local Y.  In fact, swimming has become a very mainstream form of exercise particularly attractive to older or heavier women and includes everything from water jogging to water aerobics.  Any exercise you would do out of a pool has a less negative impact on your joints and bones when done inside a pool because the water’s natural buoyancy protects you.

Swimming, like other aerobic exercises, improves bone density and can help prevent osteoporosis.  It is ideal for women who experience chronic pain from any number of chronic disorders.  Swimming is even a great choice for pregnant women (always check with your doctor first).

swimming 300x199 Swimming for fitnessSwimming increases your endurance and stamina, improves your cardiovascular health, helps you lose fat and build muscle (which helps to increase your metabolism) and gives you more energy throughout the day.  The mental benefits of swimming are also well-noted, as it has been shown to improve depression and anxiety as well as reduce stress.

While you may be sore for the first few days after starting a swimming routine, the likelihood of being injured is much smaller.  You should still warm up and cool down before and after swimming, and you should start slowly and build up your exercise time.

Swimming does not have to be an expensive exercise; check with your local community center or school and find out if the pool has public use hours; this accessibility is typically offered at very low prices if not for free.  If you don’t have easy access to a swimming pool but live in a moderate climate, consider purchasing an above ground pool.  The maintenance is fairly simple, the pools inexpensive, and the long-term benefits of swimming will make it worth it in the end.

Cycling for exercise

Whether you choose to use an exercise bike or hit the trail on a real bike, cycling is a wonderful exercise to add to your fitness plan.  It is typically an aerobic exercise, allowing you to get your heart rate up into that target area, and it can be less stressful on your joints than running and traditional aerobics.

Cycling exercises your heart and has the same benefits as other aerobic exercises, including aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis and some cancers as well as mitigating the damage of diabetes and other chronic conditions.

If you plan to engage in cycling exercise out on the street, there are certain safety considerations you should make.  First of all, you should have a well-fitting helmet.  You should never even think about going cycling without a helmet.  Even if you are an extraordinary cyclist with a very low risk for being in an accident, you simply cannot take the chance that the cars who will be sharing the road with you will be that careful.

cycling 200x300 Cycling for exerciseThe other thing you need to make sure you have is the proper exercise gear.  For most women, investing in a great pair of cycling shorts with a padded rear makes the experience, whether out on a bike or when using a stationary exercise cycle, much more comfortable.

Finally, you should consider investing in cycling shoes.  Cycling shoes are specifically designed to make pedaling easier and safer; if you cannot afford a pair of cycling shoes, be sure you have a pair of cross-trainers.  As with any form of aerobic exercise, the more you can fit into your schedule the better, but shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes three times per week.

Cycling on an exercise bike is a great alternative for those who live in harsher climates; you can make the experience more fun by popping in a video – they even make videos for use when cycling that make it seem like you are out riding through the country side.  Watching a movie can also help make the time pass more quickly, as can listening to music.

If you do not have an exercise bike and are interested in purchasing one, be sure you go to the store and try several different bikes.  Cycling is great exercise, but not if you are in pain or you cannot comfortably adjust the bike so that you can reach the pedals.  For added muscle work, look for a bike that has moving handle bars and the ability to adjust the settings aso you can vary the degree of difficulty.