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How much should I exercise?

One woman runs through her local park an hour a day. Her male co-worker does 30 min of high intensity interval training 5 times a week. And his buddy lifts weights 4 days a week, twice per day designating each session for a specific set of body parts. Who is exercising the right amount? In other words.. who’s right?

First, let’s make one thing clear: one size never fits all. There has never been and will never be a single workout that is suitable for every person. Optimum workout activities, duration, intensity, frequency, and style are going to vary vastly from person to person based on your age, gender, personal fitness goals, injuries, overall health, background in fitness, work schedule, family obligations, interests, and good old genetics.

Right now you might be thinking: can I at least get a ballpark, here?

Well, according to a new analysis published in the journal Circulation, you should probably be exercising more than 30 minutes a day, at least.

Researchers reviewed 12 studies from the US and Europe involving 370,460 men and women with varying levels of physical activity. Over the course of 15 years, this group experienced 20,203 heart failure events. Each of the participants self-reported their daily activities along the way, allowing the team to keep track of their level of physical activity.

Current activity guidelines—set forth by the  American Heart Associationstipulate that for overall cardiovascular health, you need:

at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150

OR

at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

AND

moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.”

The bad news: researchers involved in this study found that those participants who followed these current guidelines only had “modest reductions” in heart failure risk compared to those who did not work out at all.

The good news: those who exercised twice and four times as much had “a substantial risk reduction” of 20 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Researchers believe their findings show that physical activity and heart failure may be what is called “dose dependent,” meaning that the higher your level of physical activity, the lower your risk of heart failure. This finding held true across the age, gender, race, and geographic locations of the subgroups studied.

Senior author of the study and an associate professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Jarett D. Berry, believes that these findings should prompt physicians and health policymakers to strongly consider making new recommendations for greater amounts of physical activity to prevent heart failure.

Heart failure affects more than 5.1 million adults each year, resulting in health-care costs exceeding $30 billion annually.

One limitation to this study is it’s inability to compare the relationship of heart failure risk with different types of physical activity. It doesn’t look at running vs weight lifting vs rock climbing to determine which is better or worse for long term heart health.

That being said, whatever exercise you are doing needs to be for MORE than 30 minutes per day.

Still not sure where to start? Try creating a balance between the 4 different kinds of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

Endurance exercise, also known as aerobic training, includes activities that increase your breathing and heart rate. This kind of activity is especially important and beneficial to the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Examples of endurance exercise includes walking/jogging, dancing, or yard work.

Strength exercise, also known as strength training or resistance training, focus on making your muscles stronger. This type of exercise is important for staying independent as you move into old age, so you can continue to carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. It’s also incredibly important for proper bone health and muscle mass and plays a key role in disease prevention. Examples of strength exercise includes lifting weights, using resistance bands, and body weight exercises.

Balance exercise is important because proper balance is not only going to allow you to complete more advanced moves of other exercise types (such as movements that involve standing on one leg, balancing on a slack rope, or tumbling), but it will also help prevent falls in older adults. Examples of balance exercise includes standing Tai Chi, certain yoga poses, and slacklining.

Flexibility exercise is important for maintaining or increasing your range of motion. Stretching is important if you want to complete advanced movements that require an impressive range of motion. It’s important for maintaining movement through old age. It’s also important for releasing tension in the body, and recovering from strenuous workouts. Examples of flexibility exercise includes touching your toes, deep lunges, and many yoga poses.

You need a combination of exercises for optimal health, and some forms of exercise overlap. You might have noticed that Yoga is great for flexibility and balance, but it’s also great for strength. Lifting weight is great for increasing strength, but when done at a certain level of exertion and speed can also double as an aerobic exercise.

When you’re thinking about starting a new workout regime the most important thing to figure out is what you enjoy doing. If you enjoy it, you’re much more likely to stick with it. And even the best exercise in the world isn’t going to anything for you if you can’t get yourself to stick to it.

Fitness Tips to Get You Through the Summer

With summer half over, your might notice the crowds at the gym beginning to dwindle down. Everyone has already shown off their summer bodies and are ready to cut down on the workouts and just enjoy the sun. But keeping your body lean and tight isn’t just about looking good in a bikini; it’s about your overall health, year round.

This is the perfect opportunity to get into that empty gym and work off a little of the summer bbq’s you’ve been enjoying. It’s fine to splurge every now and then. Life is meant to be enjoyed! But you can’t focus on health only a few months out of the year. It has to be a lifestyle.

Here are a few workout and healthy eating tips to help push you through the mid-summer slump and stay in shape.

DON’T FEAR THE Pull-ups!

Every pull-up counts. This simple yet challenging movement works your entire upper  body including the lats, biceps, back, and shoulders. You can’t get much more efficient with your upper body workout than pull-ups. Don’t get inimidated if you can only complete a handful or maybe not even a whole one yet. Grab a chair and use it to help you up until you can support your whole weight. Keep it up, and you’ll be busting our reps of 10 or more in no time. Even once fall and winter hit, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to show of your toned arms the next time you throw on that little black dress for a romantic night out or group dinner party.

Row, row, row your boat

Swap the treadmill for the rowing machine. Treadmill’s only work the legs, but a row machine works out every inch of your body, including your arms, back, core, and legs all at once. Plus, it’s lower impact on your knees if you suffer from knee pain.

Up Your protein intake

If you’re going to stay lean and mean, you need protein. Chicken, turkey, yogurt, beans, take your choice. Protein enriched foods need to stay a part of your regular diet. Protein keeps you full for longer and helps you recover from your workout. Don’t have time to cook up a piece of chicken every time you hit the gym? Protein shakes are a great way to fill the gaps when you’re short on time.

cut Excess liquids

The only liquid you really need is water. Stay away from the sodas, lattes, and fancy alcoholic drinks that prevent you from maintaining your fitness goals over time. Cutting out unnecessary sugars, and keeping them out, is key. This includes sugar supplements you might find in diet sodas. “Diet” drinks still have plenty of properties that make them unhealthy. Want a little extra flavor? Infuse your water with fruit. This will mix things up, and add in some of the nutrients of the fruit your infusing.

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5 Great Work Out Tips!

Here are a few great work out tips for any woman looking to get into working, or for an avid gym goer!

1. Chart all your progress

It is important to always track your progress since it will help you determine your progress. Understanding how you’re progression is coming along will help facilitate how quickly you should increase volume or reps per workout. Without a basis of how your workouts are coming, you might catch yourself doing repeated workouts which are not doing much for your body, or the complete opposite where you are overworking your body. In which case, you could potentially injure yourself quite seriously.

2. Work out during work!

Even though this tip may be difficult for many people working in a business environment, for those of you who work in a relaxed workplace, this may be useful for you. Rather then sitting on your traditional work chair, sitting on a medicine ball, and getting in some crunches and other exercises can go a long way. If a medicine ball is not your thing, keeping small weighted dumb bells under your desk and take a few reps every so often will get your muscles working and the blood flowing.

3. Never overwork yourself

One of the most important rules or tips of working out is to overwork your body to limits you know it cannot perform. Many issues that beginners have with working out is wanting to see results immediately. By doing so, they tend to overwork their bodies to limits which physically exhaust themselves or seriously injure themselves. It is smart to pace yourself when you first start working out. Know your limits and take a 80/20 approach where you work out 80% of your allotted time, and rest the other 20%. This system should give your body the rest it needs to recover properly.

4. Work out while walking

While walking and running on the treadmill is a great exercise. It’s possible to utilize your time on the treadmill even more effectively. Grabbing a low weight dumb bell and setting the treadmill on a brisk walk while doing a few bicep curls and shoulder presses should help burn calories and help tone up. Doing this every so often on the treadmill will shorten your work out and get you warmed up for the workout.

5. Sprint

For you runners out there, while running long distances, or while on your daily routine, make sure to throw in 10-60 second sprints in between. The change of pace will confuse your muscles and will in time, make them stronger. Running at a monotonous pace could make your muscles used to a certain pace and when that occurs, the workout will be pointless. Changing up speeds is a good way to keep your muscles toned and will strengthen them.

For all 15 tips, please visit: FitnessMagazine