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Exercise and You: How Much is Enough?

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At different stages of your life, your body will have different needs for daily exercise to keep fit and healthy. When you’re younger you definitely have more energy for exercise, but often lack the time or the motivation.

Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health.

It seems at every stage of life a woman’s body goes through changes. You survive puberty, child-bearing years, and menopause. Sometimes it feels like we are riding an emotional roller coaster with all the hormonal ups and downs. Along with this comes the physical changes too. As our bodies age we notice that the “middle -age spread” is not just a myth! Along with a slower moving metabolism comes loss of muscle mass, and muscle tone. 

What can you do about it?

Staying active can help your body look and feel younger. When it comes to exercise even small amounts each day can have a positive effect. Regular exercise reduces the risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer and lowers risk of early death. Physical activity also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing stress levels, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to research, 15 minutes a day is a ‘reasonable target dose’ for the over 60s and was still associated with good health benefits.

Daily Cardio

A good and easy way to get started is by going for a 35-minute walk each day.  Walking is a great way to improve or maintain overall health. If you haven’t exercised in some time, start with a simple goal of just walking for 10 minutes. Once that becomes easy, increase by 5 minutes each day until you reach 30 to 35 minutes. From helping you lose weight to de-stressing and lowering your blood pressure, you’ll reap many benefits from walking. It is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health. It will boost your mood, and the exposure to natural sunlight will help you stave off SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) if you are prone to the winter blues. While your pants are getting looser, your mind often gets a creative boost.

Weight-Bearing Exercise

Another very effective way to keep and tone muscle mass is strength-training, or weight bearing exercise. Working out with hand weights will strengthen your bones and muscles. The increase in muscle mass will help you to burn calories more efficiently. You don’t always need weights for this type of exercise. For example, push-ups and pull-ups are weight-bearing exercises where you are working out with your own body weight. Keep in mind that your muscles need to rest in between workouts, so choose to work different parts of your body on different days. If you have access to a gym, there are many types of weight-bearing equipment you can use. Remember also to start with little or no weights to get accustomed to the machines so that you don’t injure yourself. Having a personal fitness trainer is a great way to go if your budget allows this.

Stretching

An important aspect of working your muscles is also stretching them, for muscle recovery. A good way to do this is with yoga. There are many free online yoga classes that range from beginners to more advanced and in as little as 15 minutes to one hour, depending on what your schedule permits. Joining a class is a good way to go. Doing yoga with a group keeps you motivated and learning yoga poses from a trained instructor makes it easier to learn and follow if you are new to yoga.

All you need to do now is to get started! Set up a daily schedule of what works for you. Keep things interesting by adding an activity such as aqua-fit, snowshoeing or bicycling. Follow a gym workout with a relaxing swim, hot tub or sauna. You get the idea!

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