The Benefits of Being Fit

By Deb Dittner

You cannot change the number of years you have been alive. But you can change and improve upon how your body manages the wear and tear of everyday living.

As you age, you may find yourself slowly declining with the addition of illness or disability. In aging, your body can lose lean muscle mass and be replaced by more body fat.

This process is called sarcopenia. The gradual loss of muscle can contribute to slowing metabolism, decrease in strength, declining aerobic capacity, decreased glucose tolerance and loss of bone density. With the increase in body fat comes the increased risk of disease such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and a variety of cancers.

By changing your diet and partaking in regular exercise with one of the best selling home gyms, you can become lean and muscular at any age. Your body is designed to move and is necessary to acquire optimal health. The benefits of exercise are many including but not limited to: a reduction in the risk of breast cancer and stroke; maintaining a healthy gut flora; reducing and relieving stress, anxiety and depression; improving the symptoms of asthma; and improving glucose metabolism in diabetics.

Also affected is the lymphatic system which helps to fight illness and infections. Lymph fluid is moved when the body physically moves, circulating immune cells to clear congestion and move fluid through the lymph nodes and vessels. With exercising comes sweating. The sweat glands aid in the removal of waste products and toxins from your blood which then come to the surface as sweat.

Exercise consists of:

• Aerobic exercise helps the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and blood vessels) to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Examples of this are jogging, running, swimming and walking, and should be done three to four times per week. If you are new to aerobic exercise, consider starting with a 15 or 30-minute brisk walk.

• Strength training will build muscle mass, increase metabolic rate and help maintain and build bone density. Plan on two to three sessions of strength training per week with two to three days muscle recovery between workouts. It is good do aerobic exercise and strength training on different days to allow for appropriate recovery.

• Stretching will increase the range of motion of your joints and keeping muscles loose and flexible. Examples of this are yoga and pilates approximately one to two times per week. Stretching exercises can also be used as warm-ups and cool-downs.

Your fitness level will help in determining how long to exercise each session. If you are working out with a buddy and are able to talk easily as you both move along, you may not be exercising hard enough. If you are able to talk, but prefer not to because it is more difficult, then you may be achieving a good pace. Conversation should be possible but not so easy to not achieve the benefits.

Over time and as you improve; you will want to increase the intensity and duration of workout sessions. To maintain your current physical fitness, consider three workout sessions each week. Optimally you want to work out a minimum of four times per week, but five to six sessions weekly will improve your level of fitness. Plan on two to three aerobic workouts alternating with two to three strength training workouts per week incorporating stretching as a warm-up or cool-down.

Keeping motivated can be difficult for some especially if you’ve never exercised before or have physical limitations.

Consider taking your walks or runs in a different place, take a different class, find a workout buddy, or try working out with a personal trainer. Gyms and personal trainers often offer special packages for new clients helping to make it more affordable and provide specialized help in planning your personalized program.

Developing and maintaining an exercise program will improve your strength, health and appearance today and in the future.

Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner.com or contact her at 518-596-8565.
Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes.
For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner.com or contact her at 518-596-8565.