Three universal goals most of us share are: to live longer, to live free of illness and to control our weight. Interesting enough, normal walking lets us achieve all three. In fact, walking may be man's best medicine for slowing the aging process. First, it works almost every muscle in the body, improving circulation to the joints and massaging the blood vessels (keeping them more elastic). Walking also helps us maintain both our muscle mass and metabolism as we age. It also keeps us young in spirit. For anyone out of shape or unathletically inclined, walking is the no-stress, no-sweat answer to lifelong conditioning.
All it takes is a little time, common sense and a few guidelines. Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation floating around regarding fitness walking, weight-loss and dieting. Walking is one of the best exercise for strengthening bones, controlling weight, toning the leg muscles, maintaining good posture and improving positive self-concept. People who diet without exercising often get fatter with time. Although your weight may initially drop while dieting, such weight loss consists mostly of water and muscle. When the weight returns, it comes back as fat. To avoid getting fatter over time, increase your metabolism by exercising daily.
To lose weight, it's more important to walk for time than speed. Walking at a moderate pace yields longer workouts with less soreness - - leading to more miles and more calories spent on a regular basis.
High-intensity walks on alternate days help condition one's system. But in a waking, weight-loss program, it's better to be active every day. This doesn't require walking an hour every day. The key is leading an active life-style 365 days a year.
When it comes to good health and weight loss, exercise and diet are interrelated. Exercising without maintaining a balanced diet is no more beneficial than dieting while remaining inactive.
The national research council recommends eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are the ideal diet foods for several reasons. They're relatively low in fat and calories, yet are often high in fiber and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Remember that rapid weight-loss consists mostly of water and muscle - - the wrong kind of weight to lose. To avoid this, set more reasonable goals, such as one pound per week.
Carbohydrates are high-octane fuel. They provide energy for movement and help raise internal body metabolism. They're also satisfying. The key is not adding high-fat toppings to your carbohydrates.
It's everyday habits which define our weight and body composition. A three-minute walk after each meal is worth four pounds less body fat annually. Two flights of stairs a day burns off half a pound of body fat in a year. On the other hand, one candy bar eaten daily will cost you 20 pounds annually.
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The contents of these reports were correct at time of publication.
How to Start a Fitness Plan From Scratch:
by Justin Leonard
Question: I'm 21, and a total newbie at fitness. I haven't the slightest clue about what to do. I was always more of the nerd in school, than doing any sport. Recently though, I want to work on getting in better shape. However, I'm at a loss at where to start and somewhat intimidated by Fitness Centers (though I plan on getting a membership at one). This seems like a really broad question, but where the heck do I start? How often should I workout and for how long? Any suggestions would be helpful.
Answer: There are several people who I'm sure are thanking you for asking this question. If you're starting out with completely no clue, you should first ensure that working out is okay with your doctor. Second, try to come up with a game plan. For example, ask yourself, "What is my goal?" "Do I want to lose weight? Gain weight? Tighten the abs? Increase my endurance?" Then formulate a quality game plan to reach your goal.
Next, if you plan on getting a gym membership, ask yourself these questions: Are the gym hours are flexible? For example, are they open when it's convenient for you? What are the slowest and busiest gym times? In addition, find out if the gym staff or personal trainers give you a tour and demonstration of the equipment so that you can familiarize yourself and get comfortable with what you'll be paying big bucks for.
If they do, will they provide a "basic" beginners' workout routine on paper? Not all gyms will voluntarily show you around their gym. It may not be part of their program or policy. You may have to ask for a tour and demonstration of some basic exercises. Tell them where you're at as far as fitness level. If they can't meet your requirements, you may want to see about getting a training partner for additional support or moving to a different gym.
Starting out, the basic workout schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The average duration is just over 1 hour, although I would keep my workouts closer to 45 minutes. For someone who is new to working out, it may take a while to familiarize yourself and with different pieces of equipment. Working out longer than an hour may not be such a bad idea. Take your time while you work out.
Once you have determined how long you're going to spend in the gym, you can begin to focus on training. For example, how many repetitions are you going to do, and for what body parts? How many sets for each body part? What pieces of equipment will be utilized? How much weight will be used?
The standard repetition range is about 8 - 12. The sets per body part can vary, but is about 3 - 5. When determining how much weight you're going to use, start with the lightest possible weight, then gradually work your way up. If you decide to use a barbell, start with only the bar. For example, don't try to put 100 pounds on the bar because you heard it was average. You may not be there yet. The idea is to gradually increase the weight.
As far as being intimidated, try to remember that most of the people at the gym are there for the same reason you are . . . and that is to better their health.
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