Between work, family and household chores, you might find exercise on the back burner. It's time to make it a priority because regular workouts offer many health benefits, including weight control, disease prevention and aerobic endurance. You don't have to hit the gym for hours either. Combining several forms of exercise in your routine makes for a healthy lifestyle and leaves your body thanking you for years to come.
Cardio, also called aerobic exercise, gets your heart rate pumping and burns calories. This type of exercise is perfect for weight control, but it also protects you from a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression and cancer. MayoClinic.com recommends getting 30 minutes of cardio every day. Anything that accelerates your heart rate counts, including walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, biking, basketball, tennis and even vigorous housework. Break your time into three 10-minute chunks if you have trouble blocking out 30 minutes at one time.
Strength-training exercises build muscle mass and size, which boosts your metabolism and improves endurance during cardio. Strong muscles make many day-to-day activities, including carrying groceries, pushing the lawnmower and climbing the stairs, easier. MayoClinic.com recommends at least two strength-training sessions each week. Include moves that target each of your major muscle groups, including your arms, legs, back, shoulders, core, chest and butt. Free weights, weight machines and resistance bands are strength-training tools to use in your routine. Do at least one set of 12 repetitions of each exercise. Allow a day of rest between each strength-training session, which allows your muscles time to rest and recover.
Flexibility exercises improve your exercise performance because they allow a freer range of motion. In addition, flexibility exercises help reduce the risk of injuries and improve your posture. Flexibility moves, also known as stretching, are easy to incorporate into your warm-up and cool-down routine. Stretch each of your major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, without bouncing. If flexibility exercises cause pain, stop and contact your doctor since stretching should never hurt.
Exercise is great for living a healthy lifestyle, but combining it with other good choices protects your health and leaves you looking and feeling your best. Ditch your poor eating choices in favor of a variety of foods from each food group, get plenty of sleep each night and see your physician for regular check-ups to monitor your overall health. Don't smoke, avoid drugs and drink alcohol in moderation. Not only are these choices good for your health, but they also improve your performance during exercise, which helps you get the most out of your workout.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.