A good sign that spring has arrived can be found at the local supermarket. Magazines that line the check-out stand overflow with exercise tips for getting in shape for the summer. The magazine covers promise long, lean muscles, flat abs and amazing arms. Here are some fitness facts to help you sort the truth from the hype.
Doing exercises for a particular body part will not burn fat at that spot. There is no such thing as spot-reduction because your body determines where the fat will burn. You can achieve improved muscle mass by focusing on specific muscle groups. More muscle mass means higher metabolism. This becomes even more important as we age. If you aren’t actively engaged in rebuilding muscle mass, every ten years you will need to cut your daily caloric intake by at least 100 calories. Without muscle work, maintaining a healthy weight through mid-life and beyond becomes very difficult.
The kind of exercise that builds muscle mass and prevents weight gain is three-pronged. A good formula combines cardio, strength/resistance training and stretching. Slow- stretching improves flexibility and helps prevent injuries. Thirty minutes of walking or other stamina-challenging activity on a daily basis increases cardio vascular health and revs up metabolism. Strength training with weights or resistance training with exercise bands, twice weekly for at least fifteen minutes, builds muscle mass. This doesn’t mean that you will develop overly large muscles if you are a woman. A small percentage of the female population has the physical make-up to build large muscles from strength training. Those individuals benefit more from lifting lighter weights with more repetitions.
Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. Especially in the beginning, the scale is not necessarily an accurate accounting of what is occurring in your body. A measuring tape is a more user-friendly way to track your progress. With time, you’ll see an improvement in your waist-line, metabolic rate, muscle tone and your flexibility.
- Pam Brooks