Degree column: Move strong to be fit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This week we will identify how to move strong. In earlier articles we discussed the importance increased physically active and how it will help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Now let’s discuss the types of exercises and equipment that can make this possible.
There are three general types of exercise that you may want to include in your exercise routine to help you build physical fitness.
• Aerobic exercises for stronger heart and lungs.
• Muscle-strengthening exercises for stronger muscles
• Flexibility exercises for more flexible muscles and joints.
Aerobic exercises are those that get your heart rate up and make you breathe heavier than normal. Examples include dancing, walking, running and riding a bike.
When performing aerobic exercises it is important to exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity in order to increase heart rate and breathing above normal.
Aerobic exercises require a large amount of energy to perform, so they burn more calories than other types of exercises.
To increase physical fitness, aerobic exercise should be done at least 30-60 minutes five days a week at a moderate intensity or 15-30 minutes five days a week at a vigorous intensity. Think of aerobic activity as the base to your move-more lifestyle. Maintaining the aerobic component is critical to your fitness routine.
Build strength by doing resistance exercises; resistance can be your own body weight (push-ups or sit-ups), hand weights or stretch bands. Resistance exercises help maintain and build muscle tissue, which is also called lean body weight. Inactive adults lose around a half pound of muscle per year, which adds up to 5 pounds per decade.
Q: Why do you want to keep or increase your muscle tissue, or lean body mass?
A: Muscle tissue is active and burns calories even when at rest. Regular strength training can boost your basal metabolic rate as the amount of muscle you have increases.
Other benefits of strength training include a reduced risk of osteoporosis, lower back pain, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Strength-building exercises also affect body composition.
Body composition refers to how much of your total body weight is composed of fat weight and how much is composed of fat-free weight (muscles, bones, tissues, organs).
Q: How will I know that my body composition is changing?
A: Clothes fit better (remember those jeans you wanted to fit into); daily tasks are easier (carrying in the groceries) and you will look leaner and more fit.
You don’t need expensive equipment. For resistance exercises, you will need something to work your muscles against, which can be your own body weight.
Push-ups and sit-ups require no equipment and can be done anywhere.
Stretch bands are available in different levels of resistance, take less room, and cost less than weights.
Hand weights can also be purchased in varying weights at sporting good stores and some department stores.You may want to buy hand weights that allow you to add and remove weight.
Although you don’t need to go to a gym or fitness center to Move Strong, you may find it beneficial because they offer a variety of equipment and a staff that can teach you how to use it.
Myths vs. Fact
There are many common myths about strength training let’s explore these and find the truth.
Myth: I need to lose some weight before I do strength training.
Fact: Resistance exercises can help preserve lean body mass that can be lost when cutting calories. Including resistance exercise in a weight loss program can help maintain or increase lean body mass.
Myth: If I start weight training, I will get bulky.
Fact: Most women lack the hormones and body structure to develop bulky muscles. Males, while they do have hormones that allow for building more muscle tissue, still have to work very hard to create large muscles. Resistance exercises can positively shape your body, creating a “fit” look.
How much strength training should I do?
Healthy adults should perform at least one set of eight to twelve repetitions of exercises for each major muscle group of the: body — legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms at least two to three times a week, on non-consecutive days.
A repetition is how many times in a row an exercise is performed before resting. A set is a group of repetitions.
For example: eight push-ups (repetitions), rest for one minute, eight push-ups (repetitions) equals two sets of eight repetitions of push-ups. Flexibility exercises are those that require: reaching, bending and stretching. Flexibility exercises increase the ability of a joint to move through a range of motion.
A lack of flexibility may make it harder to be physically active or even to do regular day-to-day activities.
There are many benefits to adding flexibility exercises to your routine: greater freedom of movement, improved posture, increased physical and mental relaxation, reduced muscle tension and soreness, reduced risk of injury.
Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises at least two to three days per week. Always stretch before and after exercise. Warm your muscles up before stretching by doing five to 10 minutes of low-intensity physical activity, such as walking or marching in place. Stretch to a point of tightness, without causing discomfort. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Do not bounce. Do two to four repetitions for each stretch.
If you have not yet included exercise into your weight loss/maintenance program there is no better time than the present. It may seem challenging at first, but the benefits are well worth it!
Email Toi Degree at toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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