Making regular exercise a priority is important for everyone. It can help individuals maintain a healthy body weight, and help decrease the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and breast cancer. For women, sometimes it can be particularly challenging to fit in regular exercise while still balancing other priorities such as family, friends and work.
The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective states that seventy-two percent of U.S. women do not get regular exercise – and the health consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle can be devastating.
Regular exercise and proper nutrition are two methods people use to control their weight. Weight maintenance, diet and exercise can all help prevent type two diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. Exercise can even help reduce or eliminate depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Exercise can help prevent or manage diabetes. This is because exercise helps the body use insulin, and regular exercise can decrease how much insulin the body needs. During the pre-diabetes phase, it can help reverse the onset of the disease. Once diabetes has set in, exercise is still important to aid in controlling blood sugar.
To get the health benefits of exercise, don’t feel like you have to train for a marathon or be in the gym for two hours a day. Simply try to incorporate moderate physical activity into your life on most days of the week. Go bike riding on the weekends with family or friends, join a sports team, walk to and from work or try taking a dance class. Aim to participate in any activity for at least thirty minutes at a time. These activities will help slow down the progression of type two diabetes.
The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective tells us that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over the age of fifty. Sedentary women are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as women who are active, so it’s imperative that more women become physically active.
Regular cardiovascular exercise can help prevent heart disease. This is because cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart. The heart is a muscle – and like any other muscle, it needs to be challenged to stay healthy.
The heart is a muscular pump responsible for carrying blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular exercise is like weight training for the heart. This is because during exercise, the heart has to work harder to deliver the required oxygen to the body’s working muscles. Through being challenged, the heart becomes a stronger and more powerful muscle.
To strengthen your heart, perform cardiovascular exercise for a minimum of thirty minutes most days of the week. Walk briskly, jog, run, dance, bike or swim. Try to pick an activity you enjoy, as you’re more likely to stick with your exercise regime if you enjoy the activity.
Osteoporosis is when one or more of your bones has lower than optimal bone density. Weight-bearing activities such as walking and lifting weights can help prevent the loss of bone density and combat osteoporosis.
Many women shy away from weight-training because they’re embarrassed to lift weights in front of a bunch of sweaty guys, or they worry about injuring themselves by performing the exercises incorrectly. But weight-training is just as beneficial to women as it is to men. Instead of focusing on how much you can lift, aim to lift lighter weights with a high number of repetitions.
Another reason why women shy away from heavy weights is because they don’t want to get “bulky”. The truth is, most women don’t have the genetic capacity for it. On top of this, lifting heavier weights will help prevent osteoporosis and build more lean muscle. Stronger bones will help prevent bone fractures in the future, and more lean muscle mass increases the metabolism, which will help burn more calories at rest.
Aim to complete six to eight repetitions with good form. Pick a weight where you can perform all the repetitions without losing your form. If you can perform over ten repetitions, the weight isn’t heavy enough.
Repeat five to seven more times.
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