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If you’re searching for an all-natural way to lift your mood, preserve muscle tone, and protect your brain against the decline that comes with aging, look no further than the closest mirror.

One of the most powerful means of reaping these benefits is exercise – and in many cases, you already have everything you need to get it: a body.

As we age, two forms of exercise are the most important to focus on: aerobic exercise, or cardio, which gets your heart pumping and sweat flowing, and strength training, which helps keep aging muscles from dwindling over time.

And most of the time, they don’t require any fancy equipment or expensive classes.

Read on to find out how to incorporate both forms of fitness into your life.

Contents

Aerobic exercises like jogging may help reverse some heart damage from normal aging.

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Many of us become less active as we age. Over time, this can lead some muscles in the heart to stiffen.

One of those at-risk muscles is in the left chamber of the heart, a section that plays a key role in supplying the body with freshly oxygenated blood.

A recent study split 53 adults into two groups, one of which did two years of supervised exercise four to five days a week while the other did yoga and balance exercises.

At the end of the study, published in January in the journal Circulation, the higher-intensity exercisers had seen significant improvements in their heart’s performance, suggesting that some stiffening in the heart can be prevented or even reversed with regular cardio.

“Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past 5 years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life,” Benjamin Levine, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern who wrote the study, said in a statement.

Walking, another form of cardio, could help reduce the risk of heart failure — a key contributor to heart disease.

source /Blazej Lyjak

Intense cardio activities like running or jogging aren’t the only types of movement that may have protective benefits for the heart as we age.

In a study published in September in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers took a look at the physical activity levels of nearly 140,000 women aged 50 to 79 and found surprisingly salient links between walking and a reduced risk of heart failure, a condition when the heart stops pumping blood as it should. Heart failure is a key contributor to heart disease, the US’ leading cause of death.

For their work, the researchers looked at data from a 14-year women’s health study that documented heart failure and exercise levels.

When the researchers dove deeper, they found that the women who walked regularly were 25% less likely to experience heart failure than their peers who didn’t exercise. In fact, for every extra 30-45 minutes a woman walked, her risk of a failed heart dropped an average of 9%, the scientists concluded.

“This is pretty important from a public health standpoint, given the poor prognosis this type of heart failure has once it’s present,” Michael LaMonte, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Strength-training moves like tai chi are best for preserving muscles from age-related decline.

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Strength or resistance training can take many forms, but it typically involves a series of movements geared toward building or preserving muscle.

Tai chi, the Chinese martial art that combines a series of flowing movements, is one form of strength training. The exercise is performed slowly and gently, with a high degree of focus and attention paid to breathing deeply.

Since practitioners go at their own pace, tai chi is accessible for a wide variety of people, regardless of age or fitness level.

Tai chi “is particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a recent health report called “Starting to Exercise.”

There may be a powerful link between regular cardio, like swimming and walking, and a lower risk of dementia.

source Al Bello/Getty Images

A study published in March in the journal Neurology suggested that women who were physically fit in middle age were roughly 88% less likely to develop dementia – defined as a decline in memory severe enough to interfere with daily life – than their peers who were only moderately fit.

Starting in 1968, neuroscientists from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden studied 191 women whose average age was 50. First, they assessed their cardiovascular health using a cycling test and grouped them into three categories: fit, moderately fit, or unfit.

Over the next four decades, the researchers regularly screened the women for dementia. In that time, 32% of the unfit women and a quarter of the moderately fit women were diagnosed with the condition, while the rate was only 5% among the fit women.

However, the research showed only a link between fitness and decreased dementia risk – it did not prove that one caused the other. Still, it builds on several other studies that suggest a powerful tie between exercise and brain health.

Activities like cycling may also protect your immune system from some age-related decline.

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For a small study published in March in the journal Aging Cell, researchers looked at 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79, comparing them with 75 people of a similar age who rarely or never exercised.

The cyclists were found to have more muscle mass and strength and lower levels of body fat and cholesterol than the sedentary adults.

The athletic adults also appeared to have healthier and younger-looking immune systems, at least when it came to an organ called the thymus that’s responsible for generating key immune cells called T cells.

In healthy people, the thymus begins to shrink and T-cell production starts to drop off at around age 20.

The study found that the thymus glands of the older cyclists looked as if they belonged to younger people – their bodies were producing just as many T cells as would be expected for a young person.

“We now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier,” Janet Lord, the director of the Institute of Inflammation and Aging at the University of Birmingham in the UK, said in a statement.

Other types of strength training can include moves like planks and squats.

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At its most basic, strength training involves using weight to create resistance against the pull of gravity. That weight can be your own body, elastic bands, free weights like barbells or dumbbells, or weighted ankle cuffs.

Research suggests you can use heavy weights for fewer reps or lighter weights for more reps to build stronger, more sturdy muscles.

Chris Jordan, the exercise physiologist who came up with the viral seven-minute workout – officially called the Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout – told Business Insider that healthy adults should incorporate resistance training on two or three of the four or five days a week they work out.

Cardio workouts may also improve the look and feel of your skin.

source Unsplash / Haley Phelps

A study from researchers at McMaster University found that people over 40 who regularly did cardio tended to have healthier skin than their sedentary peers. The overall composition of the regular exercisers’ skin was more comparable to that of 20- to 30-year-olds.

It’s not yet clear why our workouts appear to play a role in skin health, but the researchers found elevated levels of a substance critical to cell health called IL-15 in skin samples of participants after exercise – perhaps shedding light on why cardio can improve the look of our skin.

Aerobic workouts may guard against age-related decline because of reduced brain connectivity.

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As we age, the brain – like any other organ – begins to work less efficiently, so signs of decline start to surface. Our memory might not be quite as sharp as it once was, for example.

But older people who develop Alzheimer’s disease often first enter a stage known as mild cognitive impairment, which involves more serious problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment.

A study published in May looked at adults with MCI between the ages of 60 and 88 and had them walk for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks.

The researchers found strengthened connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss. That development, they said, “may possibly increase cognitive reserve” – but more studies are needed.

Cardio may also be tied to increases in the size of brain areas linked to memory, but more research is needed.

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A study of older women with MCI found a tie between aerobic exercise and an increase in the size of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory.

For the study, 86 women between 70 and 80 years old with MCI were randomly assigned to do one of three types of training twice a week for six months: aerobic (like walking and swimming), resistance (like weight lifting), or balance.

Only the women in the aerobic group were found to have significant increases in hippocampal volume, but more studies are needed to determine what effect this has on cognitive performance.

10 Exercises to Tone Every Inch of Your Body

One surefire way to attack your fitness regimen effectively? Keep the fuss to a minimum and stick with the basics.

1. Lunges

Challenging your balance is an essential part of a well-rounded exercise routine. Lunges do just that, promoting functional movement, while also increasing strength in your legs and glutes.

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms down at your sides.
  2. Take a step forward with your right leg and bend your right knee as you do so, stopping when your thigh is parallel to the ground. Ensure that your right knee doesn’t extend past your right foot.
  3. Push up off your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. This is one rep.
  4. Complete 10 reps for 3 sets.

2. Pushups

Drop and give me 20! Pushups are one of the most basic yet effective bodyweight moves you can perform because of the number of muscles that are recruited to perform them.

  1. Start in a plank position. Your core should be tight, shoulders pulled down and back, and your neck neutral.
  2. Bend your elbows and begin to lower your body down to the floor. When your chest grazes it, extend your elbows and return to the start. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your body during the movement.
  3. Complete 3 sets of as many reps as possible.

If you can’t quite perform a standard pushup with good form, drop down to a modified stance on your knees — you’ll still reap many of the benefits from this exercise while building strength.

3. Squats

Squats increase lower body and core strength, as well as flexibility in your lower back and hips. Because they engage some of the largest muscles in the body, they also pack a major punch in terms of calories burned.

  1. Start by standing straight, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your arms at your sides.
  2. Brace your core and, keeping your chest and chin up, push your hips back and bend your knees as if you’re going to sit in a chair.
  3. Ensuring your knees don’t bow inward or outward, drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, bringing your arms out in front of you in a comfortable position. Pause for one second, then extend your legs and return to the starting position.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 20 reps.

4. Standing overhead dumbbell presses

Compound exercises, which utilize multiple joints and muscles, are perfect for busy bees as they work several parts of your body at once. A standing overhead press isn’t only one of the best exercises you can do for your shoulders, it also engages your upper back and core.

Equipment: 10-pound dumbbells

  1. Pick a light set of dumbbells — we recommend 10 pounds to start — and start by standing, either with your feet shoulder-width apart or staggered. Move the weights overhead so your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
  2. Bracing your core, begin to push up until your arms are fully extended above your head. Keep your head and neck stationary.
  3. After a brief pause, bend your elbows and lower the weight back down until your tricep is parallel to the floor again.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

5. Dumbbell rows

Not only will these make your back look killer in that dress, dumbbell rows are another compound exercise that strengthens multiple muscles in your upper body. Choose a moderate-weight dumbbell and ensure that you’re squeezing at the top of the movement.

Equipment: 10-pound dumbbells

  1. Start with a dumbbell in each hand. We recommend no more than 10 pounds for beginners.
  2. Bend forward at the waist so your back is at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Be certain not to arch your back. Let your arms hang straight down. Ensure your neck is in line with your back and your core is engaged.
  3. Starting with your right arm, bend your elbow and pull the weight straight up toward your chest, making sure to engage your lat, and stopping just below your chest.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left arm. This is one rep. Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.

6. Single-leg deadlifts

This is another exercise that challenges your balance. Single-leg deadlifts require stability and leg strength. Grab a light to moderate dumbbell to complete this move.

Equipment: dumbbell

  1. Begin standing with a dumbbell in your right hand and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hinging at the hips, begin to kick your left leg straight back behind you, lowering the dumbbell down toward the ground.
  3. When you reach a comfortable height with your left leg, slowly return to the starting position in a controlled motion, squeezing your right glute. Ensure that your pelvis stays square to the ground during the movement.
  4. Repeat 10 to 12 reps before moving the weight to your left hand and repeating the same steps on the left leg.

7. Burpees

An exercise we love to hate, burpees are a super effective whole-body move that provides great bang for your buck for cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength.

  1. Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.
  2. With your hands out in front of you, start to squat down. When your hands reach the ground, pop your legs straight back into a pushup position.
  3. Do a pushup.
  4. Come back up to the starting pushup position and jump your feet up to your palms by hinging at the waist. Get your feet as close to your hands as you can get, landing them outside your hands if necessary.
  5. Stand up straight, bringing your arms above your head and jump.
  6. This is one rep. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps as a beginner.

8. Side planks

A healthy body requires a strong core at its foundation, so don’t neglect core-specific moves like the side plank. Focus on the mind-muscle connection and controlled movements to ensure you’re completing this move effectively.

  1. Lie on your right side with your left leg and foot stacked on top of your right leg and foot. Prop your upper body up by placing your right forearm on the ground, elbow directly under your shoulder.
  2. Contract your core to stiffen your spine and lift your hips and knees off the ground, forming a straight line with your body.
  3. Return to start in a controlled manner. Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 reps on one side, then switch.

9. Situps

Although they get a bad rap as being too basic, situps are an effective way to target your abdominal muscles. If you have lower back problems, stick with a crunch, which requires just your upper back and shoulders to lift off the ground.

  1. Start by lying on the ground on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and your hands behind your head.
  2. Keeping your feet glued to the ground, begin to roll up from your head, engaging your core throughout. Don’t strain your neck during the upward motion.
  3. When your chest reaches your legs, begin the controlled phase back down to the starting position.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps as a beginner.

10. Glute bridge

The glute bridge effectively works your entire posterior chain, which isn’t only good for you, but will make your booty look perkier as well.

  1. Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms straight at your sides with your palms facing down.
  2. Pushing through your heels, raise your hips off the ground by squeezing your core, glutes, and hamstrings. Your upper back and shoulders should still be in contact with the ground, and your core down to your knees should form a straight line.
  3. Pause 1-2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.
  4. Complete 10-12 reps for 3 sets.

The 2 exercises that will keep you fit for life

If you want to live a long and healthy life, you should make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

It will keep your brain healthy and can add years to your life. Researchers have found that many fit older adults have the muscles and bones of people years — even decades — younger.

And any exercise is good for you, whether you go for a quick swim or jog or even if you are just walking to the store instead of driving.

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If you are doing any or all of that, great.

But while a basic minimum amount of exercise does have huge benefits, there are still potentially even greater benefits from doing more.

If you really want to stay strong even as you age and your body starts to decline, there are two exercises that are essential, Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician and Mayo Clinic researcher who is one of the world’s top experts on fitness and human performance, tells Business Insider. And you can do both year-round, no matter how cold or hot it is outside.

But these aren’t easy: burpees and jumping rope. (He recommends trying a weighted jump rope.)

Why burpees and jumping rope?

No matter what, your body starts to lose strength as you age. Most people reach their strength peak around age 25, and some research shows marathon runners tend to be fastest at 28, though, of course, this is going to vary from person to person. If you started strength-training after 25 and hadn’t before, your peak would come later.

But if you want to truly stay fit, you’re going to need to keep building strength to combat your body’s natural loss of muscle mass. It’s worth it to do so, and it may be the thing that keeps you young longest. As Joyner wrote for Outside Magazine, “study after study is showing that simple tests of physical performance are highly predictive of future mortality.” To achieve peak physical performance at any age, you need to go beyond endurance to build strength.

You can build strength in a lot of ways — lifting weights and adding intervals to endurance workouts both work. But these two workouts will build both your endurance and your strength, all at once.

“On hard days, I’ll sometimes alternate a minute of burpees with sets using a weighted jump rope,” Joyner tells us.

Ouch.

How to do these workouts

Trainers love to recommend burpees, simply because they’re hard to beat in terms of single exercises that will work your whole body. Instagram-famous fitness trainer Kayla Itsines recently said a burpee with a push-up would be the exercise she’d choose “if she had to pick one” for a full-body workout; and if you want a real crazy challenge, you could try trainer Bobby Maximus’ “prison burpee” workout that he uses to challenge Special Forces soldiers.

But it’s worth starting slow with burpees just to make sure you get the form right. If you start standing, you’ll then squat down until you can put your hands on the ground. Kick back into plank position, do a push-up, then kick your legs back into your squat position. Then jump.

Here’s a GIF to show you how it works, from this YouTube video by ScottHermanFitness:

via GIPHY

This video by XHIT Daily on YouTube is also useful, showing burpees done with a wider stance, which can be more stable for someone not accustomed to the exercise.

Jumping rope with a weighted rope is a more straightforward exercise, but the challenge is no joke. You can find a variety of recommended workouts, but generally (once you get up to speed), you’ll want to do a series of sets, perhaps alternating with another exercise. If you’re feeling tough, you can try alternating with burpees, like Joyner.

Just remember this, though: These workouts are going to be hard. It’s great to push yourself, and there’s plenty of research showing strong benefits for vigorous exercise. But it takes time to build up to these kinds of exercises (and practice to get them right), and you should talk to your doctor first if you’re worried you might injure yourself.

Anyone who wants to attempts these intense workouts also needs to remember to rest. Most trainers recommend alternating between hard days and easy days.

“Make your hard days hard and your easy days easy,” says Joyner. “Control your pace or it will control you.”

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2016. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

How to Exercise the Right Way: 10 Steps

To get the results you want from a workout, holding your body in a proper position is just as important as the workout itself. Doing exercises correctly will help you:

  • Burn fat
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve health
  • Decrease your waist size

And you can do it all without bulking up to the size of a Miami condo.

No matter what moves you’re doing, from a push-up to a lunge, try to follow these 10 form guidelines. (If possible, use a full-length mirror to check the position of your body.)

  1. Look out at eye level or above to spare your neck and keep you from rolling your shoulders forward.
  2. Keep your face relaxed and tension free.
  3. Relax your shoulders and lift up your chest.
  4. Pretend the top of your head is being pulled up by a string to elongate your spine and keep you from rolling forward.
  5. Count the reps for each exercise out loud; counting helps you remember to breathe continuously. (Many people hold their breath while doing strength training.)
  6. Keep your abs tight to support your lower back. (Practice sucking in every time you enter a car, bus, train, plane, elevator, escalator, everywhere—that way, it becomes automatic.)
  7. Keep your knees slightly bent, so you don’t lock them.
  8. Make sure you can (if you want to) always see your hands when doing shoulder exercises.
  9. Keep moving in between exercises to keep your heart rate up, or move directly to the next exercise. If you can’t hold a conversation, you’re exercising too hard. If you can talk a blue streak, you may not be going hard enough.
  10. As you get fitter, go longer rather than harder with cardio exercises and stronger with weight exercises—that is, do more repetitions. But it’s more important to follow perfect form and do fewer reps than to do a lot of repetitions with form that’s sloppier than spaghetti in a high chair.

Ready to begin? All right. Build your 20-minute workout today!

From YOU: The Owner’s Manual, by RealAge experts Michael F. Roizen, MD, and Mehmet C. Oz, MD​

zen habits : breathe

Post written by Leo Babauta.

You don’t want to spend long hours at the gym, but you want to get stronger, fitter, leaner, and just plain look good. It’s possible that you’re not getting the most out of your workout time.

It’s possible to get a super-effective workout in 30 minutes, and only do a few workouts a week, if you maximize your workouts.

Disclaimer: First, I’m not a certified trainer. These are tips I’ve read elsewhere that work well for me. Second, you should always get a doctor’s approval of any new workout plan. This plan is especially intense, so if you have a heart condition or other condition that might be affected by heavy exercise, you should definitely refrain from trying it until you’ve gotten checked out by a doctor.

And even if you have gotten checked out, or even if you don’t bother doing so, it’s still important to start out an exercise program slowly, until your body has the chance to adjust, or you will face burnout or injury.

Don’t dive right into this program — it’s designed for people who have already been working out but want to see better results, quicker, and spend less time doing it. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Limit your workouts to 30-40 minutes. Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. To go that long, you’d have to lower the intensity of the workout, and that means that you’re spending too much time working out. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time.
  2. High-intensity workouts. If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.
  3. Protein. Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes.
  4. Water. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.
  5. Carbs. Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs — or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.
  6. Shake before and after workout. It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine.
  7. Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction.
  8. Heavier weight. When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception.
  9. One set, to failure. Instead of doing 2-3 sets, as many people do, maximize your effectiveness by doing just one, with heavy weights, until you can no longer keep the proper form. Lifting to “failure” doesn’t mean that you should lift the last few times with a wobbly or inefficient form.
  10. Compound exercises. Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more.
  11. Balance lifting. Instead of having exercises where you’re sitting down or holding on to something or otherwise stabilized, it’s more effective to do them standing up, or on one leg, or on a Swiss exercise ball. These types of exercises force you to balance yourself while lifting, which brings your core muscles into play. This gives you a stronger overall body and allows you to lift more over time.
  12. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy. It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it.
  13. Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.
  14. Good form. For strength training especially, and swimming, form is very important, but it’s also important for other types of exercise. If you’re strength training, start with lighter weights so you can work on your form. It’s good to have an experienced spotter or trainer who knows good form to help you for the first month or so. Never sacrifice form for heavier weight. For swimming, you’ll need to get a coach to teach you form.
  15. Hills. If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill.
  16. Circuits. One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. But instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training.

The ideal workout plan
If you take all of these tips into account, the ideal plan would be to alternate 2-3 days of high-intensity strength training with 2-3 days of high-intensity cardio. You could get by with 4 days of exercise if you do them at high intensity.

The high-intensity strength training would be 30-40 minutes of circuit training, with no rest or little rest between exercises within a circuit, and a short rest between circuits if you do more than one. The circuit should work out your entire body, using compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, pullups, good mornings, etc., and either standing or using a Swiss ball so that you are working out your core. You should use heavier weights, one set for each exercise, doing them slowly (5 second up, 5 seconds down), and to exhaustion, making sure to have good form on each exercise.

You would have a protein/carb shake before and after the workout, and a small meal of protein/carbs within 60-90 minutes of the workout. Water is also important for both types of workouts.

The high-intensity cardio would be something you enjoy doing. You would do interval training, at a rate where you couldn’t talk, with short rests in between intervals. On some workouts, you would incorporate hills.

Remember, these high-intensity workouts are not for people just starting out. You should build up an endurance base before doing the high-intensity cardio, and start the weights with lighter weights, stressing good form.

How to Start Exercising and Stick to It

Making exercise an enjoyable part of your everyday life may be easier than you think. These tips can show you how.

If you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.

You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise instructions and workout plans are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach.

While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your motivation quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.

Whatever your age or fitness level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life —there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.

Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your mental and emotional health.

Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.

Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.

Busting the biggest exercise excuses

Making excuses for not exercising? Whether it’s lack of time or energy, or fear of the gym, there are solutions.

“I hate exercising.”

Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.

“I’m too busy.”

Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important. It’s your decision to make exercise a priority. And don’t think you need a full hour for a good workout. Short 5-, 10-, or 15-minute bursts of activity can prove very effective—so, too, can squeezing all your exercise into a couple of sessions over the weekend. If you’re too busy during the week, get up and get moving during the weekend when you have more time.

“I’m too tired.”

It may sound counterintuitive, but physical activity is a powerful pick-me-up that actually reduces fatigue and boosts energy levels in the long run. With regular exercise, you’ll feel much more energized, refreshed, and alert at all times.

“I’m too fat,” “I’m too old,” or “My health isn’t good enough.”

It’s never too late to start building your strength and physical fitness, even if you’re a senior or a self-confessed couch potato who has never exercised before. Very few health or weight problems rule exercise out of the question, so talk to your doctor about a safe routine.

“Exercise is too difficult and painful.”

“No pain, no gain” is an outdated way of thinking about exercise. Exercise shouldn’t hurt. And you don’t have to push yourself until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to get results. You can build your strength and fitness by walking, swimming, or even playing golf, gardening, or cleaning the house.

“I’m not athletic.”

Still have nightmares from PE? You don’t have to be sporty or ultra-coordinated to get fit. Focus on easy ways to boost your activity level, like walking, swimming, or even working more around the house. Anything that gets you moving will work.

How much exercise do you need?

The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing. Going for a quick walk is better than sitting on the couch; one minute of activity will help you lose more weight than no activity at all. That said, the current recommendations for most adults is to reach at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule? It’s okay to break things up. Two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective.

How hard do I need to exercise?

Whether an activity is low, moderate, or vigorous intensity varies according to your personal fitness level. As a general guideline, though:

  • Low-intensity activity: You can easily talk in full sentences, or sing.
  • Moderate intensity: You can speak in full sentences, but not sing.
  • Vigorous intensity: You are too breathless to speak in full sentences.

For most people, aiming for moderate intensity exercise is sufficient to improve your overall health. You should breathe a little heavier than normal, but not be out of breath. Your body should feel warmer as you move, but not overheated or sweating profusely. While everyone is different, don’t assume that training for a marathon is better than training for a 5K or 10K. There’s no need to overdo it.

For more on the types of exercise you should include and how hard you should work out, read What are the Best Exercises for Me?

Getting started safely

If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a significant amount of time since you’ve attempted any strenuous physical activity, keep the following health precautions in mind:

Health issues? Get medical clearance first. If you have health concerns such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise.

Warm up. Warm up with dynamic stretches—active movements that warm and flex the muscles you’ll be using, such as leg kicks, walking lunges, or arm swings—and by doing a slower, easier version of the upcoming exercise. For example, if you’re going to run, warm up with walking. Or if you’re lifting weights, begin with a few light reps.

Cool down. After your workout, it’s important to take a few minutes to cool down and allow your heart rate to return to its resting rate. A light jog or walk after a run, for example, or some gentle stretches after strength exercises can also help prevent soreness and injuries.

Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated. Failing to drink enough water when you are exerting yourself over a prolonged period of time, especially in hot conditions, can be dangerous.

Listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort while working out, stop! If you feel better after a brief rest, you can slowly and gently resume your workout. But don’t try to power through pain. That’s a surefire recipe for injury.

How to make exercise a habit that sticks

There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.

Start small and build momentum

A goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week may sound good. But how likely are you to follow through? The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.

Make it automatic with triggers

Triggers are one of the secrets to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercisers rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers right by the bed and you’re up and running. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.

Reward yourself

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident

If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Don’t choose activities like running or lifting weights at the gym just because you think that’s what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.

Set yourself up for success

Schedule it. You don’t attend meetings and appointments spontaneously, you schedule them. If you’re having trouble fitting exercise into your schedule, consider it an important appointment with yourself and mark it on your daily agenda.

Make it easy on yourself. Plan your workouts for the time of day when you’re most awake and energetic. If you’re not a morning person, for example, don’t undermine yourself by planning to exercise before work.

Remove obstacles. Plan ahead for anything that might get in the way of exercising. Do you tend to run out of time in the morning? Get your workout clothes out the night before so you’re ready to go as soon as you get up. Do you skip your evening workout if you go home first? Keep a gym bag in the car, so you can head out straight from work.

Hold yourself accountable. Commit to another person. If you’ve got a workout partner waiting, you’re less likely to skip out. Or ask a friend or family member to check in on your progress. Announcing your goals to your social group (either online or in person) can also help keep you on track.

Tips for making exercise more enjoyable

As previously noted, you are much more likely to stick with an exercise program that’s fun and rewarding. No amount of willpower is going to keep you going long-term with a workout you hate.

Think outside the gym

Does the thought of going to the gym fill you with dread? If you find the gym inconvenient, expensive, intimidating, or simply boring, that’s okay. There are many exercise alternatives to weight rooms and cardio equipment.

For many, simply getting outside makes all the difference. You may enjoy running outdoors, where you can enjoy alone time and nature, even if you hate treadmills.

Just about everyone can find a physical activity they enjoy. But you may need to think beyond the standard running, swimming, and biking options. Here are a few activities you may find fun:

  1. horseback riding
  2. ballroom dancing
  3. rollerblading
  4. hiking
  5. paddle boarding
  6. kayaking
  1. gymnastics
  2. martial arts
  3. rock climbing
  4. Zumba
  5. Ultimate Frisbee
  6. fencing

Make it a game

Activity-based video games such as those from Wii and Kinect can be a fun way to start moving. So-called “exergames” that are played standing up and moving around—simulating dancing, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, or tennis, for example—can burn at least as many calories as walking on a treadmill; some substantially more. Once you build up your confidence, try getting away from the TV screen and playing the real thing outside. Or use a smartphone app to keep your workouts fun and interesting—some immerse you in interactive stories to keep you motivated, such as running from hordes of zombies!

Pair it with something you enjoy

Think about activities that you enjoy and how you can incorporate them into an exercise routine. Watch TV as you ride a stationary bike, chat with a friend as you walk, take photographs on a scenic hike, walk the golf course instead of using a cart, or dance to music as you do household chores.

Make it social

Exercise can be a fun time to socialize with friends and working out with others can help keep you motivated. For those who enjoy company but dislike competition, a running club, water aerobics, or dance class may be the perfect thing. Others may find that a little healthy competition keeps the workout fun and exciting. You might seek out tennis partners, join an adult soccer league, find a regular pickup basketball game, or join a volleyball team.

Getting the whole family involved

If you have a family, there are many ways to exercise together. What’s more, kids learn by example, and if you exercise as a family you are setting a great example for their future. Family activities might include:

  • Family walks in the evening if weather permits. Infants or young children can ride in a stroller.
  • Blast upbeat music to boogie to while doing chores as a family.
  • Seasonal activities, like skiing or ice skating in the winter and hiking, swimming, or cycling in the summer can both make fun family memories and provide healthy exercise.

Try a mindfulness approach

Instead of zoning out or distracting yourself when you exercise, try to pay attention to your body. By really focusing on how your body feels as you exercise—the rhythm of your breathing, the way your feet strike the ground, your muscles flexing as you move, even the way you feel on the inside—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster but also interrupt the flow of worries or negative thoughts running through your head, easing stress and anxiety. Exercising in this way can also help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD and trauma. Activities that engage both your arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, rock climbing, skiing, or dancing—are great choices for practicing mindfulness.

Easy ways to “sneak” more movement into your daily life

If you’re not the kind of person who embraces a structured exercise program, try to think about physical activity as a lifestyle choice rather than a task to check off your to-do list. Look at your daily routine and consider ways to sneak in activity here and there. Even very small activities can add up over the course of a day.

Make chores count. House and yard work can be quite a workout, especially when done at a brisk pace. Scrub, vacuum, sweep, dust, mow, and weed—it all counts.

Look for ways to add extra steps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park farther from a building entrance, rather than right out front. Get off your train or bus one stop early. The extra walking adds up.

Ditch the car whenever possible. Instead of driving everywhere, walk or bike instead when the distance is doable.

Move at work. Get up to talk to co-workers, rather than phoning or sending an email or IM. Take a walk during your coffee and lunch breaks. Use the bathroom on another floor. Walk while you’re talking on the phone.

Exercise during commercial breaks. Make your TV less sedentary by exercising every time commercials come on or during the credits. Options include jumping jacks, sit-ups, or arm exercises using weights.

How getting a dog can boost fitness

Owning a dog leads to a more active lifestyle. Playing with a dog and taking him for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements than non-owners. One year-long study found that walking an overweight dog helped both the animals and their owners lose weight (11 to 15 pounds). Researchers found that the dogs provided support in similar ways to a human exercise buddy, but with greater consistency and without any negative influence.

In another study, public housing residents who walked therapy dogs for up to 20 minutes, five days a week, lost an average of 14.4 pounds in a year, without changing their diets. If you’re not in a position to own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself, but by helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, you’ll make them more adoptable.

How to stay motivated to exercise

No matter how much you enjoy an exercise routine, you may find that you eventually lose interest in it. That’s the time to shake things up and try something new or alter the way you pursue the exercises that have worked so far.

Pair your workout with a treat. For example, you can listen to an audiobook or watch your favorite TV show while on the treadmill or stationary bike.

Log your activity. Keep a record of your workouts and fitness progress. Writing things down increases commitment and holds you accountable to your routine. Later on, it will also be encouraging to look back at where you began.

Harness the power of the community. Having others rooting for us and supporting us through exercise ups and downs helps to keep motivation strong. There are numerous online fitness communities you can join. You can also try working out with friends either in person or remotely using fitness apps that let you track and compare your progress with each other.

Get inspired. Read a health and fitness magazine or visit an exercise website and get inspired with photos of people being active. Sometimes reading about and looking at images of people who are healthy and fit can motivate you to move your body.

Mistake #1: Crunching Your Way to Cut Abs
Why it doesn’t work: Even if you did hundreds of reps of every day, your belly probably wouldn’t get much flatter. That’s because it’s impossible to “spot reduce,” or losing weight in one area of your body. “You can have the strongest, most chiseled abs, but if they’re under a layer of extra padding, you won’t be able to see them,” says personal trainer Sandi Hahamian, founder of Whole Motion Fitness and MyLittleSwans Wellness Ambassador. In order to get lean, flat abs, you’ll need to reduce body fat by trimming empty calories (like chips, candy and sugary sodas) and cranking up the intensity of your cardio workouts.

Mistake #2: Working One Muscle at a Time

Why it doesn’t work: “When you’re using the kind of machines that only focus on a single muscle, like the chest press or lat pull down, you’re missing a major opportunity to challenge your body and get stronger,” says Hahamian. “You’ll see better results more quickly—and burn more calories—if you engage several muscles groups, like your core, abs and arms, at the same time.” So, rather than using the overhead press machine (which only works your shoulders), do alternating leg lunches on a bosu ball while simultaneously raising 5 to 8 pound dumbbells overhead. You should feel you heart pounding and your muscles burning—a sign that you’re getting great cardio workout while you tone!

Mistake #3: Doing Low Intensity Workouts

Why it doesn’t work: Just hitting the treadmill or elliptical machine for 30 minutes a few times a week may not be enough to really elevate your heart rate above 100 beats per minute—essential for getting in shape and burning calories. “If you can chat with a girlfriend or hum a tune while you’re jogging, you’re probably not working out hard enough,” says Hahamian. “Just by increasing your speed and intensity in 30 to 60 second intervals—running hard at 6.5 miles per hour instead of jogging at 4.0—you’ll start to see major improvements in your fitness level, and in your body.”

Mistake #4: Skipping Your Post-Exercise Snack

Why it doesn’t work: It may not seem to make a lot of sense to eat right after a sweat session (and burning all those calories!) but reaching for a smart snack can actually help you lock in the results of your efforts. “Have something protein-rich, like a yogurt or string cheese, within 15 to 30 minutes of your workout,” says Hahamian. “The foods will give your muscles the nutrients they need to start repairing themselves—making you even stronger than if you’d skipped out.”

Mistake #5: Neglecting Your Water Bottle

Why it doesn’t work: You might not think to drink water until you’re actually working out—but it’s critical to hydrate before you hit the gym floor. “If you wait until you’re already thirsty and sweating to sip, you’re probably already dehydrated—and that means you’ll probably feel sluggish and struggling as you work out,” says Hahamian. The time to starting chugging is a half hour before you lace up your sneakers (and don’t forgot to keep drinking as you exercise!).

Mistake #6: Confining Exercise to the Gym

Why it Doesn’t Work: Whether its too cold, too hot, too far, or too crowded, it’s way too easy to find excuses why you can’t hit the gym—so make it a point to include exercise in every aspect of your life. “You can play soccer or go body surfing with friends, take a power walk with your mom or suggest hiking as a fun outdoor date,” says Hahamian. Not only will your body respond better to a variety of new challenges, but non-gym exercise can be a lot more fun—which takes work out of working out!”

Amanda Pressner Food, health, and lifestyle writer Amanda Pressner has already cooked half a dozen dinners on her new indoor grill.

As Seen On TV – Should You Buy or is it Crap?

Do you wonder if those products “As Seen on TV” actually work? Do you wonder if the ‘But Wait…There’s More!” is worth waiting for? If you do, then this is the site for you. I’m Simon Carly and I’ve been willing to send in my $19.95 (plus shipping and handling!) to find out for you, the consumer. On my site you’ll find actual real life tests of products and honest reviews to let you know if the products are worth your money. Comments and stories from readers who have used products are welcome!These are firsthand reviews of products intended to help the everyday consumer. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers with products featured on this site, and all products reviewed are courtesy of my wallet. Any ads on this site are solely through the web hosting service and reflect relation to site content, nothing more. Comments are welcome on my blog, but if you wish to contact me directly or have an idea for a product that you would like to see me review email me at [email protected]

As Seen on TV Exercise

As Seen on TV Fitness Gadgets are burned into our memory. Do you remember any of these exercise gadgets?

Tony Little Gazelle – Who can forget Tony Little and his crew gazelling their way back and forth on this unusual looking contraption. I think I was a little bit too distracted by the image of Tony Little’s ponytail bouncing around. What about the duo gazelling? I think it was a bit too sexually suggestive to be a fitness infomercial.

The Gazelle by Tony Little

Ston-O-Max Turbo Body – What a name! Now you can have a trainer and a personal masseuse all at once! Now you too can sit on the couch, eat all day. Then get rid of excess pounds and stress at the end of the day with the might Ston-O-Max.

Ston-O-Max exerciser

Rock-n-Go Exerciser. One review of the Rock n Go Exerciser had users agreeing that while trying out the machine, they felt a bit ridiculous and creepy on this machine.

Rock and Go Exerciseer

As Seen on TV fitness products seem to be so similar. Which one do you choose for your particular fitness goals? It might make a great automatic bull riding toy for your kids entertainment.

How to exercise right?

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