In this hustle and hurry world we live in, who has time to go to the gym? First there is the job, then the kids, PTA, and those night classes you're taking to keep up to speed in your career. That hardly leaves any time for your personal fitness and well being. Granted, we all know that we are supposed to exercise in order to live longer and healthier. No one will argue that exercise makes you feel stronger, both mentally and physically but how can a hard working, over scheduled individual make it happen?
The answer to this question is easier and closer than one might think. The home gym is quickly becoming the solution many have been looking for. Not only is it affordable, but there is no commute involved, no one cares if you just got up and didn't comb your hair and you can do it when you want to. For those of us not in the best of shape it can be pretty daunting to walk in the gym. We tend to think that everyone knows what he or she is doing and we don't. This is rarely the case, but why agonize over it if you can do what you need to do in the privacy of your own home?
Putting a usable gym together is simple and cost effective. The three key components of any fitness program are:
1 - Aerobic or Cardiovascular Training
2 - Strength Training
3 - Flexibility
With this in mind, lets determine what is needed to accomplish these health goals.
Firstly, aerobic training can simply involve a brisk walk around the block, or a jog at the beach. To properly train the heart, one needs to work out aerobically for a 20 minute minimum three times a week in your individual heart rate zone. Foul weather days or northern climates, where winter weather is a factor, can put a damper on the best-laid plans to get outside. Having an indoor cycle, treadmill, elliptical trainer or even a jump rope provides an intensive fat burning cardio workout that you can do anywhere.
Secondly, strength training builds strong defined muscles and promotes healthy dense, bone mass. A plethora of exercises can be done with a pair of dumbbells and a weight bench. Resistive bands are another option for those with limited space or tight budgets. Muscle adapts over time to the stress generated by strength training. Micro tears are created within the muscle while training, producing firmer, denser muscle tissue. This is accomplished during the repair phase of your training program. That is why rest is an important part of the equation.
Thirdly, stretching the muscles of the body after exercise is an often over looked part of a fitness program. However in recent years science has shown us that muscles that are not elongated after training become excessively sore due to the buildup of intracellular by-products and have been proven to cause injuries in persons who have lost range of motion within the joints, due to loss of flexibility within the muscle fibers. All one needs is an exercise mat or a yoga video to pop in the VCR.
By Lisa A. Leonard, A.C.E. CPT
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