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Exercise - How to make the most of your exercise

Exercise means active use giving practice and training or causing improvement. It is essential to good health, good looks, and as important as eating healthy diets. Exercise firms muscles, increases stamina, improves circulation and skin tone, sharpens mental faculties, and increases your energy. It is recommended therapy for everything; from injury and cardiac rehabilitation, to weight control and depression. Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. There are many ways of getting your exercises, but there are four main types of exercises.

Types of exercises

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobics exercise literally means ‘with oxygen.’ With these exercises, the body processes large amounts of oxygen over sustained period of time, usually 20 continuous minutes of movements. It develops the hearts and lungs by elevating the heart rate to a target level of 75% of your maximum. To calculate this, multiply 0.75 by (220 minus your age). Continuous exercise usually associated with some jumping or bouncing is the most valuable, from a cardiovascular standpoint. There are many activities that may or may not be classified as aerobic. Cycling, jogging, jumping rope, rowing, cross country skiing, and aerobic dance movements are all aerobic by nature. Basketball, racquetball, biking, hiking, tennis, swimming, and walking, can be aerobic. Some not so typical aerobic exercises include waterskiing, golf, bowling, horseback riding, and softball. A musical format adds fun to most programs, and helps develop rhythmic movements.

Isometric Exercise

In an isometric exercise, one set of muscles is tensed for a period of time in opposition to another set of muscles or to an immovable object. This contraction is measured in seconds of exertion and is generally followed by an equivalent rest period. By isolating the muscles in a particular area, mental and physical focus is directed to that area, and spot reduction, toning, and relaxation can occur. An example of this type of exercise is the sit-ups. This type of exercise is most beneficial when combined with other, more general programs.

Stretching or Flexibility Exercise

Exercise programs which are built around stretching cause the limbs and body to reach out to full length in smooth relaxing movements, and to gain body extension and limberness. Since muscles are elastic substances, slow, easy, and regular stretching exercises will strengthen muscle tone and keep body supple. Stretching exercises are particularly important during a warm-up program to prevent injury.

Weight Training or Anaerobic Exercise

Weight training, as the name suggests, is the use of weights of various sizes in physical exercise programs. The process can develop personal strength in particular areas as well as body contouring and toning. The physical resistance offered by weight training is often advantageous for joint mobility as well as muscle strengthening. Light weights are often used in other forms of exercise for higher intensity and concentrated work on problem areas. The added resistance of weights is frequently considered therapeutic for some people with certain types of arthritis or injuries.

Good health requires proper nutrition, adequate exercise, and plenty of rest. A well-balanced daily routine will make you look and feel your best. An attractive figure is important not only to your personal image but also for your health.

Ways you can exercise

Sports and recreational activities such as tennis, swimming, jogging, bicycling, and walking, all provide good exercise. You might consider joining a health spa or exercise group to ensure that you will exercise regularly. Daily exercise is best, as occasional exercise will leave you stiff and will not develop your muscles. A daily exercise plan taking only a few minutes, can be very effective. A well balanced fitness program should include an integrated workout involving all the major muscle groups, and be practiced at least three times per week. Whatever exercise you choose to do, should be done regularly and should always follow these three steps:

Before you begin to exercise each time, you should gradually warm up increasing the intensity as you go.

Reach a target heart rate (about 75% of maximum heart rate) and maintain this level for approximately 20 minutes.

Cool down – gradually go slower and slower until your heart rate reaches a normal range.

Activity Assessment

Sedentary - 75-100 calories/hour

Sitting with little or no body movement – reading, typing, writing, watching TV.

Light – 100-150 calories/hour

Sitting or standing with some body movement – cooking, washing dishes, ironing, walking slowly, driving a car.

Moderate – 150-250 calories/hour

Sitting or standing with considerable body movement of arms or legs – walking moderately fast, making beds, general housework, bicycling, golfing, playing volleyball, gardening. Vigorous – 250-350 calories/hour Rapid body movements – heavy work, climbing stairs, playing tennis (doubles), bowling.

Strenuous – 350+ calories/hour

Body movements near maximum capacity – jogging or running, swimming laps, playing basketball, chopping wood, playing tennis (singles).

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