An effective program includes all four components of exercise.
• Cardio (running, power walking, swimming, anything that raises your heart rate) burns fat and strengthens your heart
• Resistance ( lifting weights, pulling on exercise bands, moving water as you swim or exercise in a pool. When you’re just starting out, your own body weight may be enough resistance) to build the muscles that improve your metabolism, and protect your joints.
• Flexibility– (yoga, stretching, Thai body work, T’ai Chi) to avoid injury
• Balance – (core strength, Bosu [a large ½ ball. You can put the flat surface on the ground and exercise on the ball, or put the ball side down and balance on the flat surface) – stability and avoiding falls that lead to serious injury and long-term disability.
As a student of Taekwondo, I have found that martial arts are the only way to get all four components in one class. This is very efficient for busy people. Visit www.ataonline and put in your zip code to find the American Taekwondo Association class near you. My family studied with Chief Master Patti Barnum in Homewood, IL.
You cannot SPOT REDUCE. Do all the crunches you want, but if you don’t do enough cardio, you can have a six pack under a layer of fat. Cardio is great, but in addition to protecting your joints, resistance training builds muscles that burn energy (even at rest.) If you increase the percentage of your body weight that’s muscle, your metabolism will increase; you’ll burn energy continually, and you’ll shed unwanted pounds more effectively. This does not mean making yourself look like lumps of rock. It means getting stronger, and leaner. When you add resistance training, the number on your scale won’t change as fast as you would like. Don’t worry. The size number on your clothing tags will change. Muscle weighs more than fat, but takes up less space, making your body healthier AND better-looking. Which number is more important: the number on the scale, or the number of heads that turn when you walk by?
What numbers should you measure? Make sure your doctor watches your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screening measures, but another important number is the waist: hip ratio. Scientists have determined that people whose waist measurement is more than 80% of their hip measurement are at higher risk of heart disease. Measure your waist at the level of your belly button (not under the fat pad) and hips at the level of your hip joints, around the fullest part of your buttocks. Whatever that number is, don’t give up. You CAN improve and make yourself healthier.
More exercise is not always better. Hours of cardio at the same intensity-level offers fewer benefits than shorter bursts of higher intensity cardio, especially when you alternate with short, high intensity resistance training intervals. Working only one muscle at a time is not as effective as exercising many muscle groups at the same time.
Certified personal trainers teach you how to get great results without injury, how to choose the right amount of resistance, tailor the programs to fit your changing fitness level. They also suggest varying routines to fight boredom and promote muscle confusion that makes your workouts more effective. Many trainers offer affordable group rates, which also gives you a support group.
Several websites suggest questions to ask before hiring a trainer. For example, read the October 21, 2013 post at http:// www.livestrong.com/article/402347-questions-to-ask-a-personal-trainer/. Also check out my friends Jeff and Rita Sachs at Sweat Equity in Homewood, IL.
Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. If you mess up, fess up, and start over at the very next meal, or scheduled exercise session. You can do this.
Check out the next Woodsonian Inspirational Musings on Monday for more benefits of exercise and tune in next Thursday for MAKING SURE THE MONEY DOESN’T GET FUNNY IN RETIREMENT.