If you're over 50, losing weight is not like it used to be. Everywhere you read, you're told to exercise to lose weight. But how much do you really need? Can you really transform your body and lose weight without living at the gym?
When paired with a healthy diet, exercise is a crucial part of a successful weight loss regimen. In fact, though diet is important, some experts believe that exercise is even more important when it comes to losing weight and warding off disease. The two main reasons are exercise speeds up your metabolism and, when you exercise, the perspiration you produce cleanses toxins from your body.
Why is releasing toxins important?
Toxins build up in the liver and digestive system. This leads to weight gain, hormone imbalances, and loss of energy. By releasing toxins through exercise, the positive effects of your workout continue long after you're done.
Second, your muscles continue to consume fat molecules (calories, fuel) well after you’ve stopped exercising. So how much should a person exercise each day? Health benefits can be achieved with 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact cardio exercise five times a week.
Michael Phelps the Olympic swimmer, would consume 12,000 calories a day during training. That’s 6 times more than our recommended daily intake which is about 1800 to 2000 calories. He torched nearly all fat content in his body from swimming literally miles a day. Exercising.
But this isn't about spending hours at the gym. You don't need to unless you are consuming an excessive amount of calories or eating foods that hang on to calories.
While some people exercise to lose weight, others simply want to improve their health and keep their joints flexible. Others want to get in peak condition for sports.
In short, the amount of daily exercise you need depends on what your goals are.
Exercising for weight loss
If you're exercising to lose weight, you might have to work up to 7 days a week.
An example of a good weight loss routine would be 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, like speed-walking integrated with strength training.
Arthritis Walking Workout
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Should I Use Weights?
Use lighter weights and more reps to develop lean, toned muscles and maintain a slender look. Use higher weights and fewer reps to build bulkier muscles for a thicker look. Ladies, no need to worry about getting bulging muscles: you don’t have the amount of testosterone in your body to develop the large muscles you see in bodybuilding competitions.
Exercising for Health
Experts agree that just thirty minutes of low or medium-impact aerobics five times a week is all that is needed to reduce the risk of certain diseases and promote longevity.
If you're new to exercise, it is important to start slow. Studies have shown that your body will benefit even if you have to break up the thirty minutes into smaller chunks throughout the day. Be sure to allow yourself time to achieve results. You didn’t fall into weakness and excess weight overnight so it won’t be overnight to get back to where you want to be.
The key is to get your heart rate up to a level that will strengthen your cardiovascular system. Again start slow and work your way up. It’s called exercise, not torture.
A good rate of maximum heart rate is 70% for beginners, 80% for moderate and 85% for advanced. As a general rule, you can determine your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
For example, a 40-year-old would have a maximum heart rate of 180. They would get the most benefit from maintaining a heart rate of 90 – 126 BPM while exercising. Walking is great, but a stroll through the mall is not going to qualify.
Exception: If you’re on blood pressure medications, you need to check with your doctor what your target heart rate should be.
Exercising for Older Adults
It's important to stay active at any age. Older adults benefit greatly from regular exercise. Your muscles don’t know how old you are. They simply react to whatever forces are placed on them by getting stronger and more durable.
What Does That Mean for You?
Less risk for falls and fatal fractures
Pain relief because your muscles can support your joints
Live in your home instead of needing an expensive nursing home
Freedom from urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control is not a normal part of aging!)
Enjoyment of your day because you're able to do what you want with strong legs.
Decreased medical bills saving you more of your hard-earned money.
The US Department of Health and Human Services advises older adults to get 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.
If health conditions make this difficult, you should get as much exercise as your doctor, or physical/occupational therapist advises.
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