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In Denver, there is a unique gym that features programs combining yoga, strength training and spinning (stationary bike workouts). “You have to combine all the components of fitness together to really live the optimum healthy lifestyle,” – Dawnelle Arthur, Qi Studios.
There are three pillars to ensure you have plenty of energy on a daily basis — water, proper diet and rest. I can certainly have plenty of energy without eating all the right foods everyday, but since my body isn’t getting the proper nutrients, I will quickly fade. This principle is the same with your workout. You can run and stretch at the gym and be plenty healthy, but when it comes time to help your friend move, your muscles will lack the energy to get the job done. You’re simply not getting everything your body needs.
Imagine yourself running a mile and everything that goes into it. You’re going to need a strong heart to be able to pump blood and nutrients throughout your entire body and into your muscles. You’re going to need strong muscles to keep up with the physical demand of your feet pounding the pavement and your legs carrying you the distance. You’re going to need flexibility so that your muscles are able to open up to absorb the nutrients your heart is pumping and so that all of your joints are moving to the correct position.
Strength, cardio and flexibility are all necessary for a fit body and healthy living. Too much of one and not enough of the other can limit the potential of your workout and leave you feeling sore, tired and more prone to injury. By focusing on all these components of fitness, your body can achieve much more.
Short for cardio vascular workout, cardio is meant to workout your heart. Your heart is a muscle and needs training just like the rest of your body. A healthy, strong heart pumps blood carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout your entire body. Better circulation improves the health of your skin and ensures that it’s getting the proper nutrients it needs to be radiant. Sweating during these workouts also helps to flush out toxins that may be building up in your pores. By neglecting your heart, you will become very tired, very quickly.
You’ll want to keep your heart rate at a moderate level while exercising to better condition your heart. To find out what your heart rate should be at, subtract your age from 220, this will give you your maximum heart rate (what you should be at if sprinting). Cut that in half to calculate your moderate heart rate. As you’re working out, measure your pulse for 6 seconds and multiply it by ten to get your heart rate in beats per minute. Exercising with moderate level heart rate is also believed to be ideal for burning calories.
Weight training isn’t just a way to pack on muscle. Weight training strengthens muscles so that you’ll have more energy, have better balance and better posture. Strength training can be done with any amount of additional weight. Hold your hands straight out in front of you for 30. Now do the same while holding the fifth Harry Potter book, or any other long novel. Feeling the burn? A long novel like this can weigh up to 5 pounds. It really doesn’t take much weight to work those muscles.
Stronger muscles do so much to benefit your overall health. Muscle burns up to 15 times more calories than fat. Even if you’re thin, if you’re not strength training, there is still fat tissue where there could be muscle, and this drastically reduces your metabolism. Stronger muscles also need less oxygen, so a stronger heart doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you going. As you do more intense physical activity, your strong heart and muscles can now handle the extra demand. Regular lifting also has been shown to reduce the effects of free radicals, which are responsible for some signs of aging skin and other skin issues.
Your posture will improve as your back, core and joints strengthen, while putting less strain on these body parts, as well. And don’t forget, you’ll also get that toned, healthy look and you’ll simply feel better about yourself for being in shape.
As I mentioned, this can all be achieved using lighter weights. A higher number of repetitions at a lighter weight will tone the muscles rather than tear them, which is more of a goal for body builders.
It’s always important to stretch after any physical activity. Stretching improves muscle balance around joints and loosens up the muscles so that more blood and nutrients can make it into the muscles and cartilage to better your body’s ability to recover. Less time being tight and sore allows for easier movement so that you can be more active and have more energy.
Increased flexibility also allows for greater range of motion so that excess work is not being put on certain muscles and tendons. For example, stick out your leg and point your toe away from you and then to the ceiling. You’re likely feeling a stretch in your ankle and all the way up your calf. If you continue to stretch these muscles and tendons, your ankle will have a greater range of motion. This will make walking on inclines, stairs, etc. far less strenuous on these areas, reducing your risk of future injury or complications.
A now strong and also balanced muscle around your joints betters your overall posture and decreases your risk of injury, as well. Poor flexibility pulls your shoulders forward, slouches your back and can bend certain joints, like your hips or knees, in the wrong direction. Stronger muscles combined with increased flexibility will correct your posture. Sit up straight, pull back your shoulders, stick out your chest and center your weight over your hips. This is how you would naturally sit with greater flexibility — Dancers and gymnasts know what I’m talking about. Here’s a great article about important exercises for better posture for women.
Hold your stretches to the point of mild tension, not pain, for 10 to 30 seconds. Be sure to hold the stretch at a constant point, not rock it back and forth. And hit every major muscle group to ensure your whole body is properly balanced. The Mayo Clinic has some great basic stretches for the major muscle groups.
Remember to always consult your physician before starting a workout routine so that you know you’re healthy enough to workout without injuring yourself. And don’t overdo it, either. Every little bit counts; so don’t try to do it all at once. Go for a short walk or run one day. Use the elliptical another day (it’s less strenuous on your knees). And do simple exercises with light hand weights another day. Give yourself plenty of rest to give your body time to recover.
Focus on strength, flexibility and cardio so that you can be the healthiest you can be. Don’t forget to eat your veggies, either!
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