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Super charge your fitness life

Posted March 12, 2014 in Advice Column, West Des Moines

Embrace strength training — for life. If you’re not strength training, you should be. Building lean muscle is essential to a strong metabolism, healthy bones, weight loss, maintaining strength and overall fitness. Start now, no matter your age, fitness level or goal, and stay with it for the rest of your life.

Too little physical activity accelerates muscle loss more quickly than any other factor in a person’s lifestyle. Numerous studies cite that individuals who do not strength train lose five to seven pounds of muscle every 10 years, causing a reduction in metabolism by about 50 calories a day. If you are new to strength training, start small — just 30 minutes, two to three times a week. Be consistent, challenge yourself and build up weights and reps as you gain strength and stamina.

Try interval training — for cardio. The No. 1 recommendation for 2014 from the American College of Sports Medicine is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and for good reason. HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by short periods of rest or recovery. This is a more efficient, more effective way to get the best results from your cardio workout. Try adding at least one to two interval-based cardio session to your fitness routine each week.

Decrease sugar intake — for health. Excess sugar has all kinds of detrimental effects on the body, including weight gain due to spikes in insulin levels. Try this for a month: If you’re a man, eat no more than 38 grams of sugar a day (150 calories); if you’re a woman, limit it to 25 grams of sugar a day (100 calories). If you have sugar cravings, don’t reach for a sweet. Instead, eat a protein-rich snack, such as a handful of nuts. Do this for 30 days and see how much better you look and feel.

Wear a pedometer — for activity. This is an ideal way to increase your daily activity. The idea is simple: Determine what your average daily steps are in the course of three to five days, then increase by 500 – 1,000 steps a week until you progress to 10,000 steps daily (about five miles). Based on 26 different studies, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that individuals who use a pedometer take 2,000 more steps each day than nonusers. Users also showed significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure, while increasing overall physical activity level by 27 percent.

Information provided by Tina L Howell, Owner/Certified FitCoach at Koko FitClub of Waukee, 9350 University Ave., #122, West Des Moines, 515-987-4322.

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