When looking and feeling good are among your fitness goals, it can be easy to lose sight of other types of exercise that maintain good health. A toned booty and flat stomach are just two of the benefits of regular exercise. Working out with a well-rounded fitness program can help you keep your weight in check while keeping your heart healthy, your muscles strong and your body flexible.
Whether your goal is weight loss or weight maintenance makes a difference in the amount of cardio exercise you should accomplish each week. Either way, you'll have to get off the couch and get your butt in gear. To lose weight, you should do at least 300 minutes of cardio exercise each week, or exercise for one hour, five days per week. If you're happy with your weight and want to maintain it while promoting heart health, then 150 minutes of weekly exercise should be your goal. Take a daily walk, go jogging, ride your bicycle or swim to burn calories and increase heart health.
Muscle-Toning and Muscle-Building Exercises
Strength training exercises are important for women because they promote strong, toned muscles and help increase bone density. As you get older, both of these will become increasingly important. Get ahead of the game by performing strength training exercises two to three times per week for 20 minutes per session. Use dumbbells, kettlebells or a resistance band to challenge your muscles, if desired. Do strength training moves that work your entire body, such as squat thrusters, walking lunges with bicep curls, pushups and planks.
Stretching exercises to increase or maintain your flexibility help you have a full range of movement, and prevent muscle and joint soreness following your workouts. Again, this is an issue that will become increasingly important with age, even if it doesn't seem like a problem now. A twice-weekly yoga or Pilates class can help you keep your joints loose and your muscles flexible. You can also do five to 10 minutes of stretching exercises after your workouts.
In addition to reaching for the sky and doing toe touches to stretch your upper and lower body, the spinal twist is a good upper body stretch that's especially effective if you spend a lot of time working at a computer. Lie on your back with right knee bent. Bring that knee up toward your chest, and then cross it over to the left side until it's touching the floor. Spread your arms out to the sides and turn your upper body and head to the right. Hold the stretch for 20 counts before repeating it on the other side.
Other Things to Think About
A well-balanced workout program can help you achieve your fitness and health goals, but too much of a good thing can sabotage your success. Overtraining to meet goals more quickly can work against you by sidelining you with fatigue and injury. While working for the recommend times can provide you with physical and mental health benefits, working out too hard and too long can lead to sleeplessness, depression and loss of appetite. Be patient and exercise with consistency to see the results you desire.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training -- Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Cleveland Clinic: Exercises for Your Health
- Georgia State University: Flexibility
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common-Sense Strategies to Long-Term Weight Loss
- Rice University: Overtraining Syndrome
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.