The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity cardio and two or more days of strength training each week. Varying your exercise from day to day reduces your risk of boredom and improves the effectiveness of your exercise routine. Break your exercise into several 10- to 15-minute increments, if you have difficulty devoting 30 minutes or more at a time. Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine if you are usually sedentary or have a medical condition.
Flexibility and balance are important to maintaining a healthy body and these components become more critical as you age. Begin each morning with 10 to 15 minutes of dynamic stretching. Stretching options include yoga, Pilates, tai chi, qi gong or a stretch routine you put together yourself. Stretch all major muscle groups, keeping a slow measure pace as you breathe deeply. Stretching will help wake you up and get you ready to face your day. You don’t need any special equipment to stretch, but you may find a mat makes your stretching more comfortable.
You can do strength training at home with a few simple tools. If you don’t have hand weights, use soup cans or bottles of water out of your kitchen. Resistance bands and tubes are inexpensive and helpful for strength training. Perform exercises such as curls, presses, pushups, lunges, bridges and other exercises at home or go to the gym to use resistance machines, medicine balls and other equipment that may not be practical for home use. Vary your strength routine to keep your muscles challenged.
You have many options for the cardio portion of your daily exercise routine. You may want to vary your cardio so you do a different type of exercise each day. For example, you could walk or run on Mondays, ride a bike on Tuesdays, take an aerobics class on Wednesday, jump on a mini trampoline on Thursdays, swim on Friday and go dancing on Saturday. If you work outside the home and have limited time, you may want to walk for 10 minutes during break time or lunch. Enlist friends or coworkers to walk with you or to join you in a fitness class after work.
You can exercise in water to combine strength training and cardio. Another strength and cardio combination includes jumping on a mini trampoline as you use hand or ankle weights or employing resistance bands attached to the trampoline legs. You can use an exercise ball with a ball web to add strength training to stretches and cardio. You can also walk while wearing ankle weights or holding hand-held weights.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- You: Staying Young; Michael F. Roizen M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz M.D.
- 101 Workouts for Women; editors of Muscle and Fitness Hers
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.