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.

Stretching 101

Before doing any kind of fitness training you need to remember to warm up. This gets your muscles ready for the strain you will impose on it and it will also enhance your performance.

Stretching is an excellent way of getting the muscles ready for the workout. Remember to stretch before and after the workout. Most persons will stretch before working out because we have been taught that we should do so in order to prevent injuries during the workout.  However few know or practice stretching after the workout while the muscles are still warm. This increases muscle flexibility.

If you are stretching for the flexibility benefit you should hold your position for at least 60 seconds.   This is important as many persons go into the stretching position them immediately return to the starting or relaxed position, and repeat. This is wrong and  a wastes of your effort as you are not in the stretch long enough to achieve the benefit. As was stated before, hold the position for at least 60 seconds then relax and repeat. Not only does it not benefit you if you rush the process, it can also lead to damage or strain to joint and or muscles.

Start off slowly allow your body to get used to the exercise. Do not immediately try to do the hardest positions. Try to take your ego out of it. Your head thinks you should be able to do it but you body is not quiet up to it as yet. Start slowly and carefully.

Pay attention to all muscle groups when warming up. Often times, even those of us who are more experienced tend to neglect some muscle groups. One important body part that often get’s neglected is the neck.

Make stretching a regular part of your routine. Over time you will notice you range of  movement will increase, along with your level of strength and flexibility.

Slowly increase the degree of difficulty. Don’t ignore when your body is telling you that you need to slow down.

Rest, rest, and rest. Do I need to say it again? No matter how hard you work out, you must rest because that is when the muscles grow, not during the workout.

Get yourself a good instructional DVD that will guide you in doing the proper stretching exercise in the proper way.

Exercise Video DVD

Perhaps you live in a rural area, miles and miles from the nearest gym.  Perhaps your budget doesn’t allow for a monthly gym membership.  Maybe you are just extremely shy and cannot bring yourself to exercise in front of other people.  There is no reason your health and physical well-being should suffer.  All you need to do is invest in a few fitness videos.

Fitness videos come in every workout imaginable, from aerobics to yoga and hosted by every celebrity imaginable; from Richard Simmons to Gene Simmons (the lead singer of KISS launched his own “sexercise” video in 2006).  Whatever you are looking for, you can find it on video, DVD, and some are even available digitally through iTunes and other digital outlets.

Finding the right fitness video for you may require doing a bit of research.  You’ll first want to narrow it down to what kind of exercise you want to do, and then find out which video will best meet your needs.  The great thing about fitness videos is that you can do them anywhere, anytime, even when the gym is closed.  They’re small enough to travel with you, and most hotels have video players in the room.

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a fitness video is at what level the exercises are. Some videos may be a better buy than others if they show you a more advanced routine – something you can grow into – while also providing you with ways to modify the exercises for beginning and intermediate workouts.  Fitness videos that offer these multiple levels of experience allow you to gradually work your way up to a more advanced routine without having to continually invest in new material.

If you are hesitate about buying a fitness video, consider going to your local library and checking one out for free or even renting one from your local video rental shop (although video rentals being what they are these days, it might be cheaper to buy a used one).  After trying out the fitness video, you will be able to determine whether or not you like it enough to buy it.  If you find that it will be a beneficial addition to your fitness plan, then you can buy your own copy.

If this is the route you are going to choose then I would suggest you build a “library” gradually over time of different workouts. This will help to keep you on the right track as you will not become easily bored doing the same routine day after day. This does not have to be ab expensive venture. Check online for used copies.  Half.com and amazon.com both offer used fitness videos, some as low as seventy-five cents plus shipping.

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 Audit

Now is the time to take stock of your health and fitness and this is about more than the number on your scale, more than just Body Mass Index. It’s more about how you look and feel,  so be honest with yourself as you answer these questions. They will help you asses your mental and emotional health as well as your level of fitness.

Prior to beginning the assessment, please answer the following questions:

  • Are you or could you be pregnant?
  • Do you have heart or lung disease?
  • Do you have high blood pressure, asthma or any other breathing problems.
  • Do you have dizzy spells or faint when exerting yourself.
  • Has it been a long time since you have regularly exercised?
  • Are you being treated by a doctor for a medical condition?
  • Have you been prescribed medication that may interfere with your ability to exercise?
  • Are there other circumstances that make it difficult for you to exercise?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please consult with your physician before engaging in any of the assessment or suggested exercises on this website.

Physical Fitness
Can you:

  • run up and down the stairs (at least 10 steps) two times and still

conduct a conversation without difficulty?

  • bend over and touch your toe 15 times without being winded?
  • put your hand behind your back and reach up to undo your bra clasp?
  • do 15 reps. of bicep curls (on each arm) using an 8lbs.weight or 1 liter

bottle of juice?

  • stand on one leg without support for 15 seconds (test both legs)?
  • - do ten pushups within a minute?
  • - Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and touch your toes?
  • - do 20 situps within one minute?

More than 3 no answers in this section indicate a need for a focus on fitness.

Emotional Fitness

Are you:

  • lacking in energy?
  • easily angered, flustered, brought to tears?
  • feeling more stressed than you used to?
  • always worried?
  • sleeping poorly at nights?
  • grinding your teeth?

Do you:

  • change your eating habits when you are upset?
  • neglect to make time to hang out with your girlfriends?
  • feel anxious, overwhelmed, angry, or sad more than two times during a week?
  • withdraw from people or find yourself feeling isolated?

More than 3 yes answers in this area indicates a need to focus on emotional fitness.

Diet

Do you:

  • grab fast food on a regular basis because there is no time to cook?
  • skip meals in favor of completing some task.
  • give in to your cravings for sweets, salt snacks?
  • skip breakfast?
  • eat very little fruits and vegetables?
  • eat mayonnaise, butter, or other fats daily?
  • have a pattern of weight gain over the past 6 months?

More than one yes answer to this section indicates a need to focus on diet.

Now that you have completed the fitness audit, you can use this website to get some ideas on how to proceed with the areas you would like to focus on.

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.

Healthy Weight Loss

According to survey done in 1999 almost 108 million Americans were overweight or obese. Around the world this continues to be a major concern, consequently the weight loss industry is valued at approximately $80 billion per year.We all want to believe the ads we see on TV that fat will just melt away, if you’ll only buy the pill, the machine, or the drink that they are selling.  Deep in our hearts we know it’s not true, that healthy weight loss can’t happen that way, but we keep buying into it whether we should or not.

Unfortunately, even if you do find a miracle pill, drink, or supplement that helps you lose weight, there is a good likelyhood that you will regain it along with another ten or twenty pounds. The reason for this is, unless you change your habits you will regain the weight.

Healthy weight loss is the amount of weight you can lose and sustain; it is how much you can lose and still be healthy.  If you are struggling with your weight and want to lose weight quickly, knowing that a half pound to one pound a week is a healthy weight loss might make you impatient.  Losing weight slowly and steadily, though, is the secret to keeping the weight off.

When you lose weight the healthy way – slowly as you change your diet and nutrition habits – the weight not only tends to stay off better, but your body’s metabolism adjusts more efficiently.  If you lose weight too quickly, your body goes into “starvation” mode and your metabolism literally shuts down.  Your body thinks it’s starving to death, so it tries to preserve the fat it has.

Some fad diets do work, but only in the short term, because they trick your body. The minute you go off the fad diet, you will bounce back to your old weight and sometimes even gain more.  To have healthy weight loss, you need to focus more on changing your habits and your lifestyle.  You need to focus on diet and nutrition, exercise and flexibility, and mental and emotional health.

Here are some tips on how you can lose those unwanted pounds the healthy way:

-  Decide on how much weight you want to lose. Your goals must be realistic. Understand that is is virtually impossible for you to lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks.

- Set realistic goals do not expect to be loosing crazy figures like 5 – 10 lbs. per week.

- change your mindset. Forget the fads, potions and gimmicks and realize that you have to eat healthy to stay healthy for the rest of your life.

- Do not starve your self.  You may feel happy that you are loosing the unwanted weight but it is not sustainable as your body cannot tolerate having insufficient food to fuel the energy that you need to go about your daily activity. If you just eat one huge meal for the day, it will likely end up going straight to your problem area, for most of us women that’s our buttocks, thigh, hips and belly.

- Do not diet. This is my own personally held belief but for the purpose of balance we will examine some diet plans at another time.

-  Start your day right. You always hear mothers saying you should have a healthy breakfast, in fact I’m sure that’s one of the things you insist on for your own families. Well when you start the day with a healthy meal it helps to wake up your metabolism. The food you eat throught the day is the fuel that your body will use to burn fat.

-  Eat small, healthy meals frequently. Five  small-serving meals per day is better than three hearty meals.When you eat more frequently in small servings it helps to prevent over-eating, it also increases your metabolism and make calories burn faster.

- Drink lots of water. Sufficient water helps to burn fat and keep your cells hydrated and healthy.

- Reduce your sugar intake. Incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables in your meal. Include potatoes or pasta(preferably wheat flour) as your carbohydrate. Your protein should be very lean meat. Treat yourself only occasionally to those sweet treats.

-  Watch your fat intake. This does not mean you are to avoid all fat. There are healthy fats. These can be found in foods such as peanuts, canola and olive oil.In addition omega-3 which is good for the heart can be had from mackerel, tuna and salmon.

-  Exercise.  does not have to start out being anything structured. Leave your car and walk if you are only going a few blocks, take the elevator instead of the stairs.This is a good place to start but it is necessary to incorporate some kind of regular exercise program into your life

- Go slow. Do not obsess about whether or not it’s working fast enough. Just keep on doing your thing and you will be surprised at the results.

- Once you have decided on a weight loss plan or program, stick to it and make sure that you follow your own set of rules.

Healthy weight loss allows your body to adjust to the changing needs it has as you slowly lose weight, and your metabolism keeps burning.  When you add a fitness regiment that includes weight lifting and building muscle, and you allow your body to experience healthy weight loss, you will be able to maintain the new weight longer than if you dropped a lot of weight all at once.

Healthy weight loss happens when you take a holistic approach to your health.  Change old bad habits and make new ones that will last a life time. Don’t fall for fads and don’t waste your money on pills that won’t work. Just take it one day at a time and stay focused on how wonderful you really are regardless of the number on the scale.

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.

Pilates exercise program

Pilates was developed by a man named Joseph H. Pilates.  Pilates had asthma as a child and spent a great deal of time struggling with illness and frailty, which inspired him to develop the exercise routines now names for him.  Originally, Pilates called the form of exercise “contrology” because of the connection he felt existed between the mind and the body.

Pilates exercises are designed to improve the strength of the body’s core, that is, the muscles of the abdomen and torso, and were designed with the idea that the healthier the body’s core is, the less likely it will be to suffer from ailments like the asthma Pilates himself suffered from as a child.

The practice of pilates contributes to your health in several ways.  Not only does it improve your physical well-being by increasing your flexibility, giving you stronger muscles, and helping you slim down, but it also improves your mental well-being.  Starting a Pilates exercise program is simple: all you need to do pilates is your body and a mat. It has been a very popular exercise among gymnasts and dancers that has only moved into the mainstream in the last two decades.

Pilates 300x200 Pilates exercise program
Pilates exercises condition the body to improve flexibility and strength.  The exercises work the body’s core muscles allowing for better posture and a decreased risk of major injury.  Because Joseph Pilates believed the mental and physical health are closely related, the exercises are designed to incorporate concentration, control, and breathing.

Because of its popularity, it is easy to find beginner courses or even home videos that will guide you through the basic exercises.  Be sure you choose an instructor who has been adequately trained.  Pilates, if done incorrectly, can cause injury to your body.  Make sure you wear comfortable clothing that allows you to remain modest while moving into positions you may have never thought possible.  Move slowly and deliberately, and don’t worry if you don’t know how to do the exercises the first time you try.

If you experience any kind of pain or discomfort, stop.  Pilates can be used as a strengthening program in partnership with an aerobic exercise to give you all-around better health benefits.  It is something you can do alone in your living room if you aren’t the type to go to a health club.  Even a small amount of Pilates exercise can offer a great deal of benefit to your body.