Exercise Expectations

What You Can Expect From Exercise

The Shrot Term Benefit (right after you finish): Exercise works on the part of the brain that determines what kind of mood you’re in. No matter how rotten you feel when you start out, a good run, swim, bike ride, or walk can change that mood. If you’re already feeling good, you’ll even feel better.

The Long Term Benefit: After a few weeks your body will be firmer and more flexible. Your pulse will be slower when you’re not working out; a sign that your heart is working at a healthier pace. You’ll look better and the difference will start to show in your shape and how you carry yourself.
 
 What You Can’t Expect From Exercise

You can’t expect to look like a super model that  you see in a magazine, television or advertisement. If you went to take voice lessons, you might expect your voice to improve, but you wouldn’t expect to sound like Madonna. The same goes for your shape. You’ll end up with your body –  in shape,  not with the shape of someone else.
 
A Work Out That Works
The word exercise covers a lot of different activities, from walking to weight lifting. The best exercise is any kind that keeps your whole body moving for at least 20 minutes, makes you breathe harder than usual, makes you sweat, and gets your heart beating faster. 

A good exercise routine involves these four things:
Warming up
Conditioning
Cooling down
Stretching

Warming up
Before you begin working out at full force, start slowly by using the same motions you’ll be using when you’re exercising . By starting out easy, your giving your blood time to make its way to your muscles. The blood is fuel for those muscles, and if you don’t give it a chance to get to them, they might poop out on you. 
 
Conditioning
This is when you work your body so much that you feel a difference in your pulse rate and in the way you are breathing. During conditioning, you’re working out the most important muscle of all — your heart. Exercise that increases your pulse rate (makes your heart beat faster) is the kind that has all of the benefits like controlling your appetite and making you feel terrific. People who don’t exercise end up storing much more of what they eat as fat, than people who work out often. The reason for this is that muscles which are in good shape from conditioning use of a lot of energy, and fat uses hardly any energy at all. (Read: you burn more calories)
 
Cooling down
Don’t bring yourself to a sudden stop when you’ve finished your work out. Your body isn’t prepared to quit as quickly as you might be, and a sudden stop could cause cramps, dizziness, or even fainting. Slow to a stop by lightly doing whatever activity you’ve been doing, just at a slower pace.

 
Stretching
This softens and relaxes your muscles, allowing them to handle the extra stress you have put on them during your work out. Well-stretched joints are less likely to strain, or sprain. Even if you only have time for a quick stretch, doing it after your workout is key.
Make the most of your routine by including all four steps, and embrace your inner supermodel.

THE CARDIO FORMULA

Cardio is never the most fun part of working out but highly necessary for weight loss. If you are going to go to the effort of doing cardio, then make the effort a good one. I often see people reading books or magazines while doing cardio. As a general rule, if you can read while doing cardio, you are not working hard enough…at an appropriate intensity level to really burn a good amount of calories and get your heart rate going.

My husband I were at the gym the other day doing cardio. We started to talk about how slow or fast we should go. You may have heard that exercising at a slower pace is more effective for fat loss than working out more intensely. Many cardio machines even have “fat burning” programs that keep you at a slower pace. But this can be very misleading.

During low-intensity aerobic exercise, your body does use fat as its primary fuel source. However, and this is key, picking up the pace allows you to burn more total calories, as well as more fat calories. The most important factor in exercise and weight control is not the percentage of fat calories burned, but the total calories burned during the activity. The faster you walk, bike or swim, for example, the more calories you use per minute, and you will be burning more total calories, and in turn, will lose more weight.

Here’s how: If you go walking for 30 minutes at a leisurely roll, you might burn about 100 calories — about 80 percent of them from fat (so that’s 80 fat calories). But if you spend the same amount of time running, you might burn 300 calories — 30 percent of them from fat (that’s 90 fat calories). So at the fast pace, you burn more than double the calories and 10 more fat calories. Which is better for weight loss? Burning 100 calories or 300 calories (in the same amount of time).

Keep in mind; if you can’t sustain a faster pace long enough to make it worth your while, a slower pace will allow you to exercise longer, so you’ll end up burning more calories and fat that way. So you need to find a good balance, and change it as you gain more endurance. As your endurance increases, your intensity must increase. For the best weight loss results, you should try to complete at least 15 minutes of your cardio exercise at the most vigorous pace you can. 30 minutes is even better.

There are all sorts of formulas for figuring out your target heart rate and then using that number to calculate your desired intensity. This is another area where my eyes start to glaze over a bit…. One of my favorite websites for advanced training makes this question easy for you to answer on an individual basis without having to figure out all those numbers and continually take your heart rate. Askthetrainer.com has a great chart .

As you can see, this “formula” is based on how you feel, not a bunch of numbers. Don’t get me wrong, finding out your target heart rate is important, but for me, this is a better guide and easier to use on a consistent basis, especially as I gain more endurance, and strength. It also takes into account how I am feeling on low energy days and high energy days.
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