Why Not Start an Exercise Program?

Exercise Can be Easy

Getting started can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other and getting started walking.  But there is more to it than just walking although it is a great start.  Walking will improve your leg strength and heart function and will even lower your blood pressure, resting heart rate and cholesterol levels if you are sedentary.  But, there are really three components of starting an exercise program: Cardio, strength and flexibility or your heart, muscles and joints. Eliminating any one of these, in the long run, may result in injury, pain and/or lack of results.

The Truth About Your Heart

Your heart is a wonderful machine that needs regular maintenance checks like your car.  It is multi-chambered and pumps volumes of blood throughout your body everyday.  The more efficient your heart muscles are the lower your heart rate and the lower the pressure on the vessels it pumps the blood through.  Although your diet, past healthy history and genetics will help determine your blood pressure you can exercise and strengthen the heart muscles by increasing your heart rate through movement.  Like power-washing the deck with a strong flowing hose, getting the heart pushing blood through the canals with vigorous exercise will help keep the plaque off the inner walls and lower your fatty buildups of LDL cholesterol and raise the HDL type.  In fact for every additional ten minutes of vigorous exercise you will receive heart boosting health effects!  Start your program for cardiovascular exercise with at least 10 minutes of movement everyday.  Work your way up to vigorous bouts of exercise lasting from 30-50 minutes as many days a week possible; the American Surgeon General touts 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week.  That is a great goal and only you can make it happen.

Muscles are Magic

Your muscles are the key to a toned body but more importantly an active metabolism and anti-aging physique from the inside out!  Weight and resistance training is important for strong bones but also a more efficient fat burning machine.  As little as adding one pound of muscle to your body can burn an additional 500 calories per week.  That's the daily amount of calories you have to eat if you want to put on one pound of body weight a week to gain 10 pounds over the holidays! (Who wants to do that?!!)  Your muscles respond to overload principle which means they need to be challenged with more than what they are used to doing.  In fact, if you keep doing the same exercises everyday, your muscles are so smart they will figure out how to complete the task with less and less energy.  A good reason to change up your routines and cross train!  But most importantly your muscles play an important role if keeping your blood sugars in check and preventing diabetes and other health issues.  Pump up your body for better health.

Your Joints Need Balance

Flexibility decreases as we age not because we have less synovial fluid but because of muscle imbalances.  Flexibility is determined by the amount of pull or strength around the joint.  If the hips flexors or front of the thighgs are stronger than the back the joint will have limited range of motion on the back side; hence it will be hard to bend over and touch your toes. But if you strengthen the hamstrings and gluteals, you will find tying your shoes is much easier.  Flexibility improves when muscles are balanced around the joint. Remember that flexibility isn't just a stretch.

Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson, author of Naked Fitness, and fitness expert for AnytimeFitness clubs.

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