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Fitness for Youthful Aging

We all need to stay active to keep up with our activities and our loved ones. There is no substitute for exercise, but many of us just don't have a plan that we can live with. In fact, many people over 35 lose lean muscle and their ability to utilize oxygen decreases. Joints become stiff and metabolism slows down. Are these changes inevitable? No. They are directly related to decreased exercise. Through a regimen of consistent exercise we can rebuild our muscles, increase our metabolic rates, lower our risk of heart disease, improve our posture and increase the very quality of our lives.

You should be exercising for one hour everyday. Recently, the recommendation for exercise frequency was increased from 30 minutes three times a week to one hour of cardiovascular exercise 7 days a week. This does not imply that the intensity should be difficult everyday, but that the greatest amounts of health benefits are seen in those people who make exercise a part of their daily lives. Exercise can include any activity that makes you break a sweat, including all sports.

There are three stages of intensity when working out: Stage 1: not sweating and breathing normal, Stage 2: sweating but breathing normal, and Stage 3: sweating and panting. To get the most out of your exercise regiment, you should be at Stage 2 when doing cardio aerobic activities. This is where you are sweating (feel sweat on the back of your neck, not just your forehead) but breathing normally (you should be able to talk in complete short sentences).

It is helpful to know how exercise burns calories. There are enzymes found on your arteries (called Lipoprotein Lipases) which when activated by heat and exercise feed your muscle fat to burn instead of sugar. This is what is known as the “fat burning stage”. The wonderful benefit of activating these enzymes is that they continue to feed your muscles fat to burn for up to 15 hours AFTER you stop exercising. So, GET THOSE ENZYMES WORKING! To optimize this effect you simply need to exercise (while sweating) for over 30 minutes, and up to an hour is even better. Over an hour really doesn’t increase their activity anymore than that. You should not feel like you want to “drop dead” after a workout, you should feel reenergized and invigorated. If you do feel “wiped out”, you are exercising too intensely!

Cardio aerobics are of the greatest benefit when you do your exercising in the morning. This leads to a full day of that “fat-burning” activity. If you do cardio aerobics at night (or after work), when you lay down to sleep, the cooling off of your body deactivates these enzymes quicker. So, be an early riser, and go sweat!

If you’re new to exercise-start walking 30 minutes, three times a week and gradually increase to one hour daily of cardio exercise. Exercise is different for everyone. Some patients can start walking one hour a day and build from there.

Varying your workout is key. Change your workout every four weeks. Always doing the same workout will create “muscle memory” so it’s important to never let your body get accustomed to the same workout. If you are doing cardio aerobic exercise, try changing your intensity, or try changing to a different exercise or sport. You can return to the same activity after four weeks, because by this time the “muscle memory” has gotten accustomed to your new activity, and your old activity becomes new once more. If lifting weights, vary your routine by trying different exercises or different machines every four weeks. Moving from free weights, to cables, back to free weights is a simple solution to keep the body guessing.

Studies show that people who workout with a partner, work out twice as often, twice as well, and stay at it twice as long. Treat your workout like a business appointment that you can’t reschedule. Carve it into your day. Joining a gym close to your home or workplace is best. People who sign up at a location more than one mile from their house have been shown to give up going sooner. Joining a gym is better than having “a home gym” for most people, because then you are not distracted by the constant activities (and distractions) that you have at home. Society puts everything else first and us last. Making exercise a priority will improve your physical, emotional and mental well being.

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