Women who work out regularly reduce their risk of many health problems, including obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Exercise recommendations vary depending on whether you need to lose weight or if you are already at a healthy number. However, your doctor is a good resource for determining a precise amount of exercise that is appropriate for your health status and goals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise, also called aerobic exercise, each week. This guideline is generally for women at a healthy weight. If you are overweight and need to lose some excess pounds, you may need to increase your cardiovascular workout to as much as 300 minutes per week. Organized sports, dancing, biking, walking and swimming are good choices for your routine.
Many women shy away from strength training exercises for fear of bulking up. However, lifting weights is an important part of your routine because it builds lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolism and aids in calorie burn. In addition, a regular strength training routine improves bone health, reduces your risk of injuries, increases endurance and may help keep symptoms of many health problems under control. Lifting weights is the most common choice, but using resistance bands or doing weight-bearing exercises such as pushups works as well. The Mayo Clinic recommends strength training two to three times per week for 20 to 30 minutes at each session.
If your schedule makes it difficult to fit in large blocks of exercise at one time, try for several shorter workouts throughout the day. This is just as beneficial as one long one and makes it easier to fit in exercise as part of your daily routine. For example, rather than doing one 30-minute workout, aim for three 10-minute sessions. Run on a home treadmill before work, take a walk during your lunch break and go for a short swim after dinner. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that 75 minutes of vigorous exercise is similar in benefit to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. Running, tennis and basketball fit the bill.
Not all exercise routines are appropriate for all women. If you are pregnant, you may have to scale back your intensity as well as the amount of time you spend exercising. Heart problems and osteoporosis may also alter how much you are able to work out each week. If you have any health conditions, work with your physician to create a healthy workout schedule.
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