For A Fit Body...Do Three!

January's annual sales are pretty predicable. The big white sales (which sell more colored sheets and towels than white these days,) organizational equipment (is there hope for me?) diet foods, and the infamous exercise equipment. A walk through Sam's, Target, or pretty much any store is telling us the same story: it's time to get your house and body together!

On this note, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows there are 3 types of exercise that need to be done in order for you to achieve a FIT BODY: aerobic conditioning, strength training, and flexibility or stretching. We need to do all three: one type of exercise cannot replace another.

Aerobic exercise is when you move large muscle groups through motion repetitively: walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, skating, etc. These exercises get your heart pumping faster, oxygen flowing, and your cardiovascular system gets really hopping along. When you do aerobic exercise, your metabolic rate increases--the rate at which you burn calories. After you stop, there is an after-burn or what I like to call the "Energizer Bunny" effect that continues to burn calories, it keeps going, and going... This is really great if you are trying to manage your weight. We'll talk about the wonders of aerobic exercise in a later blog...

Strength training is when you challenge muscles to become stronger usually by lifting some form of weight using resistance. For example, lifting your own body weight against gravity: ab crunches, push ups, leg lifts, arm circles, arm curls. Or, lifting weights: dumbbells, soup cans, barbells, kettle bells, and using weight machines. Other strength training methods include isometric contractions or doing yoga. There is also an after-burn metabolic rate effect with strength training. All good stuff.

Flexibility is increased by doing stretching exercises. Stretching can be done on the floor, standing, sitting in a chair, or even while doing yoga poses. You can use just your own body, or add a towel, ball or a machine. Stretching to increase flexibility is critical for overall fitness because it reduces the risk of injury, improves mobility, and improves life function for people of all ages.

Take a look at your fitness plan this week. Make sure all 3 types of exercise are included:

Aerobic exercise should be done at least 3 - 5 times a week.
-at least 3 times a week at a high intensity
-at least 5 times a week at moderate intensity

These can be broken up into smaller pieces. For example, if you have time to walk up and down your stairs in the morning for 10 minutes, great. At noon, walk around the building at the office or at home for another 10. Take the dog for a 10 minute walk around the block at night. Guess what? You've clocked your 30 minutes!
Phone a friend and make it a date.
Just find what you like to do, do it and make it a habit!

Strength training should be done at least 2 times a week.
-Check into your local Y, community recreation and education program, or favorite gym for a lesson or two to learn safe weight and strength training techniques.
-Find a book or video on strength training to follow. Some good booklets come with beginning dumbbell sets, or exercise balls.
-I like the Wii Fit for strength training--it has the fun element in it!
- Some aerobic exercises also incorporate some good strength training: swimming, dance, gymnastics, etc.
-Do you have any books, videos, or tools that you use for weight training that you can recommend to us?

Flexibility/stretching should be done daily.
-I strongly recommend the book Stretching by Bob Anderson. It lays out series of stretches for all types of people or activities you may be involved with, has great illustrations, and is widely recommended and used by physical therapists and has been for years.
And as far as your body is concerned...

Just Move It, Or You'll Lose It!!!!