Getting in shape? Learn 10 fitness facts that will help motivate you to get moving. See the next page to get started.
Walking and Your Heart
Studies have suggested that walking at a brisk pace for three or more hours a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by 65 percent.
About 25 percent of American adults — and an even greater percentage of women — are sedentary. After age 44, upwards of 30 percent of women are sedentary, and by age 65, the proportion increases to almost 35 percent. By the time they reach age 75, about 50 percent of all women are sedentary.
Only about 22 percent of American adults engage in regular, sustained physical activity for at least 30 minutes five times a week, and only 15 percent exercise both regularly and vigorously.
Age and Fitness
No matter how poor your current level of fitness, you can start an exercise routine and become fitter and healthier. Even 90-year-old women who use walkers have been shown in studies to benefit from light weight training.
Simply adding movement into your daily routine can increase your level of fitness. For example, if you park in the last row of the parking lot and walk briskly five minutes each way between your office and your car, walk up and down the stairs at your office during your 10-minute afternoon coffee break, and walk the dog for 10 minutes when you get home, you've racked up 30 minutes of exercise for the day.
Arthritis and Movement
Women with heart disease or arthritis actually experience improved daily function from involvement in various modes of physical activity.
Fitness consists of four components: your body's ability to use oxygen as a source of energy, which translates into cardiovascular fitness; muscular strength and endurance; flexibility; and body composition.
Balanced Exercise Program
To address all the components of fitness, an exercise program needs to include aerobic exercise, which is continuous repetitive movement of large muscle groups that raises your heart rate; weight lifting or strength training; and flexibility exercises or stretching.
Walking vs. Jogging
Walking at a brisk pace (a 15-minute mile or 4 mph) burns almost as many calories as jogging for the same distance. The benefit of jogging is that it takes less time to cover the same distance and it benefits the bones; however, it may be too strenuous for some.
It takes about 12 weeks after starting an exercise program to see measurable changes in your body. However, before 12 weeks, you will notice an increase in your strength and endurance.
For more information about fitness, exercise and women's health, see the links on the next page.
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