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Getting Started on a Fitness Program

Black Health Matters / Nutrition & Fitness  / Fitness  / Getting Started on a Fitness Program

Getting Started on a Fitness Program

Make a fall wellness resolution

We know it’s not January, but now is as good a time as any to get your health and wellness resolution started. It is not difficult to get started when you concentrate on including two components in your program: cardio training and resistance. Cardio training works the heart, which is imperative for weight loss and for building and maintaining the heart muscle. Resistance training is important for increasing your metabolism and maintaining lifestyle attributes like lifting groceries, kids and other tasks around your house. Of course, the added benefit is beautiful muscle tone and a better physique!

Cardio training involves getting the heart rate above its resting state for a specified period of time in order to make it stronger. It is the same principal as lifting weights to increase muscle mass. That is because the heart is a muscle. The high rate of cardiovascular disease in the United States can be attributed to the lack of cardio exercise in our society (in addition to a predisposition for the disease in certain ethnic groups—like us). Consequently it becomes imperative to maintain a cardio regiment, including walking, swimming or any activity that is going to raise your heart rate and strengthen it. Here’s the added benefit: If you have excess weight around your stomach, cardio performed at a targeted heart rate will help to get rid of it.

For example, a 40-year-old woman in good health with a resting heart rate of 101 beats per minute (bpm) may target her cardio workout heart rate to reach 155 bpm, meaning she will exercise at a level that will use up carbs and burn calories. This level should be maintained for 15 minutes or so. Physical signs of achieving a target heart rate are breathing heavily and perspiring. If your cardiovascular system is already compromised with heart disease or high blood pressure, your cardio exercise regime should be closely monitored to avoid overtaxing your heart.

Resistance training builds muscle mass, which we lose as we age. Resistance training can slow and even reverse this trend, which also increases our metabolism, making it easier to keep off excess weight. Any muscle-strengthening regime will work in tandem with your cardio workout, making your time spent in the gym or with an exercise video or in the park extremely effective! Lastly, weight-bearing exercises build and strengthen bones, which helps fight against osteoporosis.

Now set up an exercise schedule to incorporate cardio and resistance training. Run, kickbox, swim or engage in another type of cardio workout three to four times per week for at least 30 minutes (optimally 45 minutes, including warm up and cool down), and resistance training two to three times per week for 20 minutes. If you cannot get to a gym, use an exercise tape.
Getting started is easier than you think. Be consistent and focused, and you will see results.

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Benita Perkins

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