Aerobic Fitness or Muscle Fitness: Which one’s for you?

Different types of physical fitness offer different benefits to your health and body. Varying your workout protects against disease and helps prevent injury and boredom.

To customize a program for your specific needs and desires consider these types of physical fitness…

Aerobic Fitness

Any exercise that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time will improve your aerobic fitness level.

If you want to improve your…

  • Heart health
  • Muscular endurance
  • Energy level
  • Mood
  • Self-esteem

And/or decrease your…

  • Risk of heart disease
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood sugar
  • Risk of diabetes
  • Body fat
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Fatigue
  • Risk of some types of cancer

Make aerobic exercise a regular part of your fitness program.

How much should you do?

Health and fitness experts recommend doing a minimum of 2 1/2 hours of moderate intensity or 1 1/4 hours of high-intensity activity per week. It’s OK to break it up into 10 or 15-minute increments.

What’s moderate intensity? Moderate activity includes things like brisk walking and biking as well as daily activities such as mowing the lawn or vacuuming that raise your heart rate for at least 10 minutes continuously.

You feel a little warm and are able to talk while you exercise. If you try to sing it’s difficult. You are working at 65%-74% of your maximum heart rate during moderate activity.

High intensity includes activities such as running or jogging, biking faster than 12 mph, hiking hills and cross-country skiing. You break a sweat, your breathing is more labored but you can still talk. Your heart rate is beating at 75% – 85% of it’s maximum during a high-intensity workout.

You can choose to do either moderate or high-intensity workouts or any combination of the two depending on your fitness level.

Learning your target heart rate range and wearing a heart rate monitor is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to be sure of what intensity of workout you are doing.

Always warm up for at least 5 minutes first and include some stretching exercises at the end of your workout.

If you are new to exercise check with your doctor. Start with low-intensity workouts (55% – 64% of maximum heart rate) of shorter durations. Then increase your time or intensity (not both at once) by 10% per week.

Try different types of activities until you find ones you enjoy. Here are some other ways to get an aerobic workout:

  • Aerobic classes such as step, spinning and water aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Racket sports
  • Playing basketball or volleyball
  • Walking the dog
  • sweeping the floor
  • carrying heavy loads (as long as they are done for at least 10 minutes continuously)

Muscle Fitness

There are two components to muscle fitness. The ability to lift heavy objects (strength) and the ability work for long periods before fatiguing (endurance).

Muscle fitness is achieved by exercising against resistance. This creates small tears in the muscle tissue. After you work out your muscle tissue repairs itself thereby becoming stronger. To allow time for this repair process to happen, allow at least one day off in between strength training workouts of the same area.

If your goal is to improve…

  • Your metabolism
  • Your bone mineral density
  • Your lean muscle mass
  • Your ability to lift and carry things
  • Your ability to get up and down from a chair or the floor
  • Confidence

And/or you want to decrease your…

  • Body fat
  • Fatigue
  • Age-related muscle loss
  • Risk of osteoporosis
  • Risk of injury
  • Blood sugar
  • Blood pressure
  • Pain

Make strength training one of the types of physical fitness you do.

There are a number of ways to strength train…

  • Lifting free weights
  • Lift your body weight as in a push-up or squat
  • Workout on machines
  • Use exercise bands or tubes
  • Make use of aquatic exercise equipment
  • Doing tasks such as vacuuming or pushing a lawnmower
  • Doing core stabilization exercises – strengthening the muscles of your trunk.

It’s important to find a form of strength training that you enjoy.

General guidelines for strength training: workout 2 to 3 times a week with a routine that uses all the major muscle groups in your chest, shoulders, back, abs, arms, and legs.

A basic strength training program should take 20 – 30 minutes to do. Whether you do more than that depends on your goals.

Plan to be a little sore for the first few weeks, but don’t produce pain during or after your workouts.

It’s very important to learn proper form so work with a certified personal trainer for a few sessions to start.

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