With all the demands in your busy life, no doubt you feel a huge sense of accomplishment if you simply get in a walk on any given day. And you should! But one form of exercise isn’t enough. So instead of trying to fit ANY form physical activity into your schedule, focus on getting FOUR kinds of exercise — including core training as well as cardio, strength training and flexibility moves. You don’t necessarily have to add MORE workouts into your week; first just make sure that you’re alternating between these four types of movement in your routine, or combining them into any given workout.
Cardiovascular exercise is activity that increases your heart rate for a sustained period of time, such as walking, stair climbing, running or biking. Cardiovascular training is a vital part of being fit because it strengthens your heart muscle, which in turn helps you breathe easier and helps your heart beat less often. That alone gives you more energy every day. But a more common reason people like to get a cardio workout is that it burns a lot of calories and is a great way to help you keep your weight in check. It also releases endorphins, which I call your body’s natural ‘feel good” drug.
But cardio alone won’t do it all.
2. Strength training
While you may burn a bunch of calories at one time in a cardio workout, the overall goal for any fit, healthy person is to have a good metabolism, which simply means you burn more calories all day long. For this your ticket is strength training. By gaining strength and building up your muscles, you burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest. And of course nicely defined muscles look great — but did you know that muscle tissue also takes up less space than the same number of pounds of fat? That means the size of your pants just went down!!
But what is perhaps the most important benefit of strength training isn’t visual at all. It’s the ability to move through daily life and daily functions more easily. Picking up children, moving the sofa and shoveling snow are much easier to do when your muscles are strong and toned. This is one reason
As your muscles get worked more often, they become tight; and this can lead to injury. One way to prevent that is incorporating a good stretching routine or regular yoga sessions. This will lengthen out those tight muscles and help stretch the connective tissue that surrounds them, helping you feel better in the other parts of your workout while also preventing soreness. Bonus: Yoga’s deep breathing techniques are also great for managing stress, which has been linked with belly fat. What may start as a facilitated stretch session may become the best part of your day for stress management.
4. Core Training
The core is the center of your body — your torso. It keeps you upright, much like the trunk on a tree. Without a strong trunk, the tree is vulnerable to tipping over or breaking. Same goes for your body. Strengthening your abdominals and back muscles will give you better posture, keep your body strong and tall, help you age more gracefully and help every movement you make seem easier.
While all of these things are important, don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s all about cross training — a little bit of each is really all you need! Try cardio one day and strength training the next, with a little stretching every time. Take a Pilates class once a week for your core, include a good set of crunches and deep stretches after a morning walk, add dumbbells to your cardio routines … It’s not as hard as it seems! And if you keep your workouts well-rounded, when people ask you, “How are you today?” you’ll more often honestly answer, “Great!”