lement 1: Cardio exercise
What it is: Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises are endurance activities that use your large muscle groups in rhythmic motion over a sustained period of time. Cardio workouts get your heart pumping and you’ll breathe harder than normal and may even feel a little short of breath. Cardio activities include:
- Brisk walking
- Stair climbing
Why it’s good for you: Whatever your age, cardio can help to increase your lung capacity, strengthen your heart and muscles, and improve your stamina and endurance. Cardio workouts can also:
- Help control weight by burning calories and regulating appetite.
- Lower blood pressure and control blood sugar.
- Reduce the risk of falls in older adults.
- Improve memory and thinking; even help prevent mental decline and manage symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
- Reduce joint pain and stiffness.
- Release tension, boost your mood, and help you to sleep better at night.
Walking: an easy introduction to cardio exercise
Walking briskly for just 22 minutes a day will help you to reach your minimum weekly goal of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise—and in the process, lower your risk of heart disease and obesity. Walking doesn’t require any special skills or training. Aside from a comfortable pair of shoes, you don’t need any specialized equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere. You just have to resolve to get up and go.
Look for creative ways to fit a brisk walk into your daily schedule. Ditch the car and walk to the grocery store, for example, or take a walk during your lunch hour, or walk while you’re talking on the phone.
Use a walk to clear your head. Use the time to take a break from the stressors of everyday life and give yourself some precious alone time. Fresh air and some time to think can work wonders for your mood.
Or make it a social event and walk with others. Invite friends, family members, or work colleagues to walk with you. Taking a walk can provide a great opportunity to catch up with an existing friend or strengthen the bond with a new one.
Enjoy time in nature. Walking in parks, on beaches, or along hiking trails or riverbanks can add to the mood boost you experience from exercising. Spending time in nature can release endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemicals that improve mood and relieve stress.
Walk in a mall or on a treadmill. When the weather’s bad, you can walk briskly around a mall while window shopping or use a treadmill in a gym or health club and catch up on your favorite TV show or podcast.
Walk a dog. If you don’t own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.
Try mindful walking
Adding a mindfulness element to a walk can help break the flow of worries and negative thoughts that many of us experience when we’re stressed, anxious, or depressed. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, focus on how your body feels as you move. Notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the feeling of the wind or sunlight on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing.
Element 2: Strength training
What it is: Strength training, sometimes called resistance or power training, builds up muscles with repetitive motion using resistance from free weights, weight machines, elastic bands, or your own body weight. Power training is often strength training done at a faster speed to increase power and reaction times.
Examples of strength and power training activities include:
- Push-ups and pull-ups using your own body weight as resistance.
- Squats, curls, or shoulder presses using dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands or tubes, or even cans of food or other heavy household objects.
- Deadlifts or bench presses using a weight bar.
- Exercising with weight machines in a gym or fitness center.
Why it’s good for you: Strength training builds and tones muscle and increases lean muscle mass. Aside from improving how you look and feel, resistance and power training can also:
- Help manage your weight by burning calories more efficiently and reducing body fat, especially around your middle.
- Ensure you have the strength to carry out everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, lifting your kids or grandkids, opening a jar, climbing stairs, or hurrying for a train or bus.
- Help you stay active and independent as you get older.
- Prevent loss of bone mass.
- Assist you in avoiding accidents and falls by improving your speed and reaction times.
- Trigger endorphins that improve your mood, relieve stress, and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improve your flexibility, balance, and mobility.
The do’s and don’ts of strength training
You don’t need to spend hours every day lifting weights to enjoy the benefits of strength training. Exercising the major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—in 20- to 30-minute sessions twice a week is enough to deliver results and help keep you toned and strong.
Neither do you need to invest in a gym membership or buy expensive equipment for use at home. Inexpensive resistance bands can be used to exercise nearly every muscle in the body—and they can also fit easily into a bag or suitcase so you don’t need to put your fitness regime on pause when you’re traveling or on vacation. There are even plenty of exercises you can do using your own body weight as resistance.
- Always warm up before and cool down after strength training to reduce your risk of injury.
- If you’re new to this type of exercise, it’s important to learn the correct techniques to avoid injury. You can find free fitness classes at many community facilities. Apps and online video tutorials can also help, as can exercising in front of a mirror to ensure you’re maintaining the right form as you work out.
- When it comes to choosing the right weight or resistance level, most people benefit from hitting muscle fatigue after 10 to 15 repetitions of an exercise. While you can build up to 3 sets of each exercise, a single set is a great place to start—and can be just as beneficial.
- As you progress and get stronger, you can challenge your muscles again by adding weight or using a band with more resistance.
- Try to leave 48 hours between exercising the same muscle group in order to give your muscles chance to recover. You can do cardio exercises in between full-body strength training sessions or exercise your upper-body muscles on one day, lower-body muscles the next.
- Always listen to your body and forget the old adage “no pain, no gain.” Strength training should never cause pain!
The importance of core-strength exercises
Many of us equate exercising our core with endless sit-ups and unobtainable images of washboard abs. But your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles. Your core stretches from below your breastbone down to your thighs and includes your back, sides, buttocks, and hips as well as your abdomen.
A strong core can help you maintain good posture and carry out many different daily movements that involve twisting, bending, or rotating your body. Everything from getting out of a chair to carrying heavy groceries or reaching for a book on the top shelf are all made easier when you have a strong core.
Strengthening your core can also:
- Help alleviate and prevent lower back pain.
- Improve performance in many different sports, from tennis and golf to running, swimming, and cycling.
- Help prevent falls as you get older.
- Improve endurance.
- Lower your risk of injury.
As well as abdominal crunches, activities that are particularly good at targeting your core include yoga, Pilates, swimming, beach volleyball, kayaking or canoeing, rollerblading, surfing or stand-up paddle boarding, using a hula hoop, or performing perhaps the most popular core exercise, the plank.
Element 3: Flexibility and balance
What it is: Flexibility challenges the ability of your body’s joints to move freely through a full range of motion. Balance maintains stability, whether you’re stationary or moving around.
Good flexibility exercises include:
- Stationary stretches and stretches that involve movement.
If you’re already active, chances are you currently engage in exercises that improve balance, such as walking, hiking, cycling, golf, tennis, or strength training (especially core-strength training). However, balance typically worsens as we age, so if you’re an older adult looking to specifically improve your balance, you can do so by trying:
- Yoga, Pilates, or tai chi.
- Exercises such as standing on one leg, walking backwards, or using a wobble board.
- Strength training the muscles of your back, abdomen, and legs.
Why it’s good for you: Flexibility helps your body stay limber and increases your range of movement for sports as well as daily physical activities such as reaching, looking behind while driving, and bending to tie your shoes. Flexibility exercises that lengthen and stretch muscles also help to:
- Keep your muscles and joints supple and less prone to injury.
- Prevent back pain.
- Improve your athletic performance.
- Prevent balance problems.
- Increase circulation.
- Relieve tension and stress; promote relaxation.
Balance exercises can help to improve your posture and reduce your risk of falling as you get older.
Only stretch warm muscles
Fitness experts advise against stretching before you exercise when your muscles are cold. Rather, stretch only once your muscles are warmed up or after your workout, as part of your cool-down routine.
Improving flexibility and balance with yoga, Pilates, and tai chi
As well as the meditative and relaxation benefits, low-impact practices such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are great for improving flexibility and balance. While there are differences between the forms, each offers plenty of options for the beginner and seasoned practitioner alike.
Yoga. An ancient exercise practice that involves performing different postures and poses on an exercise mat, there are many different types of yoga that can help with flexibility and balance as well as strength and stamina. In addition to the popular types, there are yoga classes modified for different needs, such as prenatal yoga, yoga for seniors, and adaptive yoga modified for disabilities. Most yoga sessions begin with a series of poses to warm up the body, and most sessions end with some type of relaxation exercise.
Find the type of yoga that’s right for youGentle yoga or SatyanandaFocuses on slow stretches, flexibility, deep breathing.Best for: Beginners, stress reduction.
Not for: Those looking for a vigorous workout.
HathaReasonably gentle. Involves stretching, breathing work.Best for: Beginners, older adults, stress reduction.
Not for: An aerobic, calorie-burning workout.
IyengarFocuses on precise body alignment and improving balance. Uses blocks and straps to maintain poses longer.Best for: Those looking for more fitness benefits as well as deep relaxation.
Not for: While more vigorous, not a total body workout.
KundaliniFast-paced routine of poses focusing on different ways of breathing, chanting, and meditation.Best for: Combining a good workout with spirituality.
Not for: Those uncomfortable with chanting or the spiritual aspect.
Hot yoga (Bikram or Moshka)Takes place in heated rooms (more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Focus on stamina and purification.Best for: Intense, sweaty workout for those with higher fitness levels.
Not for: Anyone with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or those who may react adversely to hot conditions.
Power yoga or AshtangaVigorous, fast-paced to build flexibility, strength, concentration, and stamina.Best for: Strong workout, improving fitness and weight loss.
Not for: A relaxing, contemplative experience.
Pilates. Like yoga, Pilates can be performed on a mat as a series of low-impact movement patterns, although it most commonly involves the use of resistance machines. A typical Pilates routine includes exercises that promote posture, balance, flexibility, and core strength. Most routines can be tailored according to your strength and fitness levels.
Tai chi. Focusing on a series of slow, precise body movements that flow from one pose to the next, tai chi is a very effective exercise for balance, especially in older adults looking for a safe and gentle exercise. By moving weight from one leg to another, and alternately raising the arms, legs and hands, tai chi varies the weight on different joints, increasing flexibility and range of motion and improving balance and coordination. And by focusing your mind on your movements and breathing, you keep your attention on the present, which clears the mind and leads to a relaxed state.
Learning yoga, Pilates, or tai chi
While you can learn these exercises online, from an instructional book, video, or app, the best and safest way is to learn from a competent instructor.
- Look for classes at local gyms, YMCAs, and specialized yoga or Pilates studios, which often offer the first class free so you can give it a try. Community centers and senior centers may also offer classes at discounted prices.
- Talk to the instructor. Many will be able to provide modified poses or programs for beginners or those with special health concerns.
- Look for a low-pressure environment where you can learn at your own pace. Don’t extend yourself beyond what feels comfortable, and always back off of a pose or exercise at the first sign of pain. A good teacher can show you alternatives for poses that are too challenging for your health or fitness level.
Content created and supplied by: sadiq (via Opera News )
Opera News is a free to use platform and the views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not represent, reflect or express the views of Opera News. Any/all written content and images displayed are provided by the blogger/author, appear herein as submitted by the blogger/author and are unedited by Opera News. Opera News does not consent to nor does it condone the posting of any content that violates the rights (including the copyrights) of any third party, nor content that may malign, inter alia, any religion, ethnic group, organization, gender, company, or individual. Opera News furthermore does not condone the use of our platform for the purposes encouraging/endorsing hate speech, violation of human rights and/or utterances of a defamatory nature. If the content contained herein violates any of your rights, including those of copyright, and/or violates any the above mentioned factors, you are requested to immediately notify us using via the following email address operanews-external(at)opera.com and/or report the article using the available reporting functionality built into our Platform See More