Friday, March 14, 2008

The Importance of Cardio, Strength Training AND Flexibility

There are only so many hours in the day, and some movement is better than no movement. So do not let this post stress you out, and give you an excuse to sit on the couch and eat ice cream. Though that is one of my favorite things to do!  But I digress...

While getting up and moving any which way you can is the first step to a fit and healthy lifestyle, I wanted to take the time to explain why the kind of movement is also important.  I won't go into depth on each of these right now, but here's an overview on the three types of movement you want to strive for each week....

This shouldn't be news to you, but cardio burns fat.  Period.  Do you want more than that?  Well, it boosts metabolism, strengthens your heart, helps you sleep, regulates your mood....I could go on.  Cardio is the foundation of most people's workout routines, and it's pretty easy to work it in.  Walking, running, aerobics, dancin' with your baby, even housework qualifies.  If it gets your heart rate up into your target heart rate, it's cardio, and it's good.  Aim for 45-60 minutes of moderate Cardio or 20-30 of intense Cardio at least 3x a week.  

Strength Training
Cardio helps you burn fat in the few hours after your workout.  Toned Muscle burns fat while you sleep.  Seriously, did you read that last sentence.  Burn Fat While You Sleep!  That's freakin' ingenious!  This is also why when you and your hubby start a weight loss program together, he loses more right away - he has that toned muscle working for him while he sleeps while you...well...don't.  That's where strength training comes in.  A set of 3lb and 5lb weights is all it takes to get you started.  Again, I'll post more later, but here's a good place to start for some basic information.  And please note - you will not become a beheamoth by working your muscles.  Think buff, not bulge!  Shoot for 20-30 minutes 2x per week.

Stretching and Flexibility
You weren't expecting this, were you?  Well, dedicated stretching workouts, like Yoga or Pilates, do wonders for your body - alleviate back pain, tone long, lean muscles, and find a sense of relaxation and peace through the breathing exercises that accompany the movements.  Your whole demeanor will change once you add Yoga or Pilates to your routine - you'll feel lighter...and you'll look lighter!  Here's a beginner's site, but I really like this Yoga for Beginners book.  Aim for 30-45 minutes at least twice a week - more if you can.  If we all did daily yoga, there'd be a little more love in the world!

So while there's plenty more to say about each of these subjects - and don't worry, I will - this is hopefully an explanation on the importance of a little diversity in your workout routine.  Now I'll get working on that one move that incorporates all three at the same time - to save all us momma's time, right?  

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