Unlike men, women have unique life reasons that can interfere with exercise. These include the birth of a child, marriage, single parenthood, a new job, divorce, overworking, job stress and returning to school. Time is a big consideration. After a day of work and childcare, most women prefer to spend their leisure time in socializing with family and friends, reading and watching television, rather than rushing to the treadmill. Although some of the above-mentioned factors are applicable to men, my experience has shown that women tend to have a harder time to manage exercise on a regular basis.
The benefits of exercise are significant, especially for women. Regular exercise lowers estrogen levels, reduces body fat, and produces a healthier body mass index (BMI). All these factors significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Also, women who perceive themselves as having more energy, fewer emotional problems, less pain, fewer social problems and lesser feelings of nervousness and depression are more likely to start exercising. There is a unique exercise and diet method for women that I have developed on my own, and it has helped thousands of clients get results.
When starting an exercise program, it is important to remember a few basic principles
Get descriptions of exercises, with pictures. Ideally, you want a routine you can print out, take to the gym or use at home. It should include a start and end picture of exercises, with a description of technique. Such exercise charts are available in health clubs and can be found on various websites. Always obtain a routine from a reliable source and ask questions if you don’t understand anything. Perform all exercises in a controlled manner. Never sacrifice control for speed. Breathing is also important. Never hold your breath while exercising. Remember to inhale as you lower a weight or relax and exhale as you raise a weight or exert. In an abdominal crunch, for example, you inhale when coming down and exhale while raising the head and shoulders off the mat.
Don’t do too much too soon. Don’t do too much, and don’t do too little either. Every individual is different. This means that walking up the stairs may be easy for one individual, but strenuous for someone else. The best way to recognize how hard you’re working is to be aware of your breathing pattern, heart rate and exertion levels. Moderate-intensity activity is going to make you breathe harder than light activity, make your heart beat faster and likely make you sweat a little.
Understand the meaning of moderate. There is a simple way to understand what’s moderate for you. Light exercise does not result in any noticeable effort. Reading the newspaper is a good example. Light exercise results in noticeable exertion and normal to slightly increased breathing. Walking a dog can be considered light exercise for many individuals. Moderate exercise is slightly vigorous. Gardening, for example, may be associated with deeper breathing to panting and sweating. Finally, hard exercise involves vigorous exertion, gasping and heavy sweating. Think of that aerobics class that’s hard to get through!
Frequency is important! 3-4 days a week of moderate exercise for 30-45 minutes each time. Researchers have found that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and colon cancer. It lessens feelings of depression and anxiety, helps build bones and muscles, keeps joints functioning well, and in older women minimizes the risk of falling.
Making the time if it isn’t there. You don’t have to fit your exercise all into one session or limit yourself to only one exercise. For example, take a brisk 15-minute walk during your coffee break and another post-dinner. Use a bicycle for 15 to 20 minutes. It all adds up. You may find that you can reach an hour a day of moderate-intensity activity more easily than you thought.
If you have not done much exercise lately, start adding physical activity to your life with some simple tips. Park your car further from your destination and walk. Find a group of friends to walk with on weekend mornings. Garden or help in home repairs. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Use hand weights while walking. Vacuum while watching television. Every little bit helps!