Exercise With a Purpose

There are many reasons why we all need to workout. We are not getting any younger; we lose muscle mass as we age resulting in a slow down of our metabolism; we lose bone mass after the age of 35; our body becomes rigid from lack of movement and we don’t feel as energetic as we once did.

There are many exercise programs one may choose from to strengthen the heart, reduce weight, reduce injury from a fall or shoveling snow and to stay healthy, energetic and sharp! There are cardiovascular (aerobic) programs and weight training programs that utilize both the aerobic and anaerobic (strength) components.

Cardiovascular exercise consists of movement that is continuous for more than 30 minutes in duration. The heart rate should not exceed 85% of the individual’s heart rate maximum. Running, swimming, hiking, cycling and skating are examples of aerobic exercise. Walking is a good form of aerobic exercise if you are 50 plus pounds over weight. The key to aerobic exercise is to be breathing and sweating. If you’re not, than you’re not working hard enough! Cardiovascular exercise burns calories while you’re doing the exercise. It does not stimulate bone or muscle development and very few calories are expended after the exercise is completed. For example, running expends 100 calories per mile (two Oreo cookies). I suggest, as one becomes more fit over several weeks, to increase the workout time to 45 minutes to one hour in duration at least two to three times per week.

Anaerobic (weight resistance training) exercise is extremely important. The goal is not to burn calories while exercising, but to make the body burn calories all the time. This is why resistance training has become more popular in the last few years. We need to maximize our exercise program to get the most efficient workout in a short period of time. By increasing muscle mass, the body’s metabolism will automatically speed up to burn fat and calories more efficiently all day long and everyday.

There are many weight resistance programs. The Full Body, Pyramid, Interval-Circuit, Manual Resistance, Super Slow and Yoga are just some of the many offered.  It is up to you and your trainer to decide which program best fits your needs.

The Full Body program consists of exercises for the lower and upper body starting with the bigger muscles and finishing with the smaller muscle groups. Most beginners as well as those who have been working out can benefit from this program. This program is one hour long and I recommend    two or three days per week.

The Pyramid program is suited for those wanting to build muscle mass in a very short period of time. This program is a split routine in which three to four muscle groups are expended one day and then the following day the other three to four muscle groups are worked. This program is very intense and requires more than an hour per session four to six days per week.

The Interval-Circuit program is one of my favorites. Once in shape, this program utilizes both the aerobic and anaerobic components. This intense program utilizes less weight and more repetitions and alternates between lower and upper body exercises. This program may be used every other day and is a good replacement for cardiovascular machines.

The Manual Resistance program is a very intense program. This program does not require the use of dumbbells or weight machines. This program utilizes the resistance or weight of the individual and the trainer with the use of a light body bar. I recommend as an intermittent alternative to the Full Body program.

The Super Slow program is sometimes referred to as “pumping iron at a snail’s pace”. One works through a half dozen muscle groups diligently exhausting each one. Each repetition lasts 14

seconds instead of the usual seven seconds with moderate resistance. By eliminating momentum, one needs a Zen-like focus and a tolerance for deep muscular burn. I recommend this program for those individuals who do not have much time to workout, who have an injury and who just want to try something new!

And finally, Yoga has been recognized by the Western World! There are many different forms of Yoga including Iyungar, Kripalu and Dru. Each discipline incorporates the mind, body and spirit. Strength, agility (balance) and flexibility are utilized by reducing stress and fatigue. I recommend a Yoga program to anyone who wants balance in their life!

Exercising with a purpose is something we all need to consider. If you need motivation or a place to start, I suggest seeking professional guidance. There are many private studios as well as commercial gyms that will be able to help you. Good luck in your quest to optimal health!