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.

Weight Loss and Water, Some Helpful Tips

We don’t need to look any further than the advances that has taken place in technology and in our way of life to have an explanation for the problems we are experiencing with weight. There was a time when all work involved some kind of physical activity, we walked where we wanted to go, or rode a horse. we also used to get out more and engaged in physical activities because that was how we kept ourselves entertained.

Now everything has changed. We drive or ride the subway, we sit at a desk all day or at the computer. Our lifestyle no longer encourages us to get the kind of exercise we need to keep in shape.  Here are some simple tips to help you achieve your objective.

In any weight loss regime, watching what you drink is the easiest way to loose that first 10 pounds. Let’s not forget how remarkable water is, over 66% of our body weight is water. This is why it is important that you pay attention to your water intake when you are dealing with weight control.
Here are 12 useful water tips;

  • Make sure you drink lots of water.  Water “does a body good” and your body needs it to flush out all the toxins. With the toxins flushed out the body looks and feels healthier. Ridding your body of toxins makes you feel fit and this can help to motivate you to loose weight. Drinking lots of water helps you to deal with hunger so you eat less. Try this, the next time you feel hungry, have a glass of water instead. Often times you are really dehydrated rather thank hungry. A good way to ensure that you drink the required amount of water per day is to buy a jug that will hold 8 glasses.
  • Make a glass of water be the first thing you have in the morning.  The benefits of this are two fold. First, a glass of water will wake up your digestive juices and get them ready to work. Second it will prevent you from eating too large a meal at breakfast time. There is nothing wrong with having your regular coffee or tea, but be sure you have a glass of water as well. You may want to watch the amount of coffee and tea you consume as caffeine dehydrates you.
  • Before you sit down to have a meal, have a glass of water. It will ensure that you do not over eat.
  • Have some water while you are eating as well. This helps your food to settle thereby causing you to feel full faster.
  • All sodas are sweetened with lots of sugar.  Also, diet soda is still soda.  If you drink a soda, counteract it with a glass of water.  Remember, caffeine dehydrates you as well.
  • We often think we are doing ourselves a favor when we drink fruit juice instead of sodas. Actually we are not, as fruit juices contain a lot of sugar. If you want a glass of juice try fresh fruit juice instead of processed juice that has a lot of sugar, flavoring and coloring. In addition to natural juices try eating more fruits as they provide the body with much needed fiber and vitamins in addition to tasting good.
  • Do not drink too much tea and coffee and when you do, try not to add too much cream and sugar. The amounts that you use may look small but it adds up over time. Try to switch to green tea, which is a much healthier alternative.
  • Try to drink your tea and coffee black. There are actually health benefits to be derived from both in their natural state. When you are done drinking them you should treat yourself to a healthy glass of water.
  • Try to avoid beer which is especially fattening.
  • In general try to stay away from alcohol. When you do indulge try to stick to dry wine as it is better than sweet wines which have a lot of sugar.
  • An anecdotal word on coffee. There is no scientific basis for this but persons have reported that they loose more weight when they consume black coffee before working out. .We don’t know if it works but it may not hurt to try. Just don’t use it as a substitute for water while you work out.
  • Also if you are a coffee drinker you may want to cut down on the amount of coffee you consume. While caffeine has natural fat burning effects,  too much and the body will become desensitized.

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.

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.

Healthy Meal Planning

Exercise is a major component to staying fit and active as you age, but healthy eating becomes more and more important the older you are and the slower your metabolism processes calories.  Eating healthy can be better accomplished when you have a meal plan to refer to, so we’ve developed sample meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as healthy snacks.

Breakfast Morning snack Lunch Afternoon snack Dinner
One egg, one piece of whole wheat toast, banana, green tea, water Yogurt with granola Low fat turkey sandwich, carrot sticks,
an apple, and water
A handful (no more than 23) almonds Spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, salad with 1 tbsp olive oil, glass of red wine
Breakfast burrito in whole flour tortilla, bowl of mixed fruit, milk, green tea, water 1 ounce of cheese, apple slices, two walnuts Tuna with one tbsp mayo, 1 slice whole wheat bread, five or six taco chips with guacamole ¼ cup cottage cheese, ½ cup pineapple 5 ounce salmon steak, ½ cup rice pilaf, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Breakfast smoothie made with 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup of vanilla yogurt and ½ c. orange juice,
1 hard-boiled egg, green tea, water
one orange or nectarine Chicken salad: five ounce chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots, other veggies to taste and 2 ½ tbsp of low-fat dressing Fruit salad:
Mix together ½ cup each of pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, and choice of berry.
Two ounces of salmon, spinach salad, two ounces of feta cheese, chopped tomato, five olives,
One poached egg, one slice whole wheat toast, one tbsp peanut butter, green tea, water one orange or nectarine Two tacos: Corn tortillas, five ounces of low-fat ground beef, seasoned, one ounce cheese, lettuce. One apple Five ounce turkey breast, steamed green beans, sliced peaches.

You will notice that these suggested menu incorporates green tea instead of coffee. Try to wean yourself off coffee which contain caffeine which is bad for you. try instead to acquire the taste for green tea which is a much healthier alternative. It is an acquired taste for some but you will be surprised at how quickly you get used to the taste.

Also drink as much water as you can through the day. try to drink at least 8 glasses. If you have a desk job, put a pitcher of water on your desk in the morning and drink it through the day. If you are on the road, then make sure that you have bottles of water with you at all times.

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.

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.

Yoga

Yoga is a form of exercise that benefits your body, mind, and soul.  Its combination of muscle-focused strengthening exercises, breathing, and relaxation techniques have been proven to reduce tension and stress and help individuals who practice it be healthier mentally and physically.

Yoga has been proven to provide reliefe for arthritis, asthma, pain, high blood pressure, and depression.  It can ease the symptoms of diabetes, heart disease, and even migraines and other chronic headaches.  Yoga has even been shown to have positive results for those suffering from multiple sclerosis and other neural conditions.  Yoga also has the added benefit of improving self-esteem, concentration, and the immune system.

Yoga was developed in the country of India.  It is as much a spiritual practice as it is an exercise, and preaches love, compassion, and tolerance in addition to calming the soul, body, and mind. It was  originally designed in order for the followers to have a deeply spiritual experience.  Whether you are seeking the spiritual experience or not yoga can provide you with a path to healthier living, because no matter what else yoga is, it helps you feel better in both your body and your mind.
To do yoga, you either need to go to a yoga studio or class or buy an instructional yoga video.  For the woman who is more reserved, because of the nature of some of the positions involved, trying it first with a video inside your own home might be advisable.  Whether you go to a studio or practice yoga from home, it is best to invest in an exercise mat, which can be attained at nearly any store that has a small fitness department or sports section.

The most wonderful thing about yoga is that even if you have very little time – 15 minutes every morning, or 30 minutes at the end of each week – you will still notice the benefits of practicing yoga.  The physical motions of yoga will improve the function of your body; the breathing exercises of yoga will help you remove the stress from your life; the clearing of your mind will help you concentrate and stay more sharply focused.  These benefits are experienced even once you have completed your yoga practice.

Adding yoga to your fitness plan is a great place to start for those who are feeling the pressure of the world. What you may discover is that the more you practice yoga, the more you want to practice yoga.  You’ll find it easier to relax, you’ll notice improved flexibility; you may even begin to notice a new calm about you that stays with you.

For the over 40 woman, I would strongly recommend that you include yoga in your fitness program.  As you know, as women get older they start to lose muscle mass and also bone density.  The practice of yoga is a great way to combat these occurrences especially for women who don’t feel capable of dealing with the more stressful forms of exercise. Idealy yoga should be seen as an addition to your fitness routine rather than as a substitute of any other forms of exercise.

Try not to be intimidated by the mental picture you may have developed of yoga.  Often times we see yogi practitioners who are able to coax their bodies into impossible positions. We find this intimidating as we think we could never be able to do that. Well my resposne to that is, you are not expected to be able to do that, least right away.  like anything else, start with small steps and you will eventually be surprised at what you will be able to achieve. The key is to Start.