How to lose weight with a well-balanced health and fitness program

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An exercise ball allows a wide range of exerci...

So you’ve decided that you’re going to begin an exercise program to lose weight and become fitter. But what should you do to reach your health and fitness goals? What’s the best way to get the pounds to fall off quickly while achieving a tone, sculpted look?

To answer the question, we turned to the esteemed Mayo Clinic, which has boiled down the essential elements of a balanced fitness training program that works for people of all shapes and skill levels.

1. Aerobics or cardio activities: This includes exercises such as walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming — even housework like vacuuming. The important thing is to get moving. The Mayo Clinic notes that everyone should strive to fit in at least two hours and 30 minutes of cardio each week. Or, if you are more athletic, hit harder and try one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous activity. But don’t do it all at once: Spread out the workouts, Mayo says.

2. Strength training: Whether using free weights, resistance bands, machines at your health club or even just doing pushups, crunches and leg squats, working your muscles are an important part of any regular fitness r outine. Not only will muscle look good, but strength training can increase bone health and help you maintain your energy as you lose weight.

3. Work your core: Your abdomen, lower back and pelvis all help protect your back and support both your upper and lower body. One of the best ways to shape up in your core? Abdominal crunches or try a fitness ball.

4. Balancing: Activities such as tai chi or yoga help you improve your balance, an important, and often overlooked, part of a workout regimen. Balance tends to decrease with age and a loss in balance can lead to falls and broken bones. Ouch! A simple activity to stay healthy is to work on alternating standing on one leg for gradually longer periods of time to build stability. Focusing on a fixed point in the room or on the floor can also help you as you balance.

5. Flexibility: It is important to stretch to improve one’s range of motion. Athletes and ballerinas know this, but increased flexibi lity is also good for the average person, improving joint health, posture and even relieving stress. It’s a great way to counter all the negative effects of our modern world, such as sitting in front of a computer for long hours at the office. As with balancing, yoga is beneficial here, but there are many other ways to stretch too, including good old bending and toe touching. Before you stretch, Mayo advises, warm up for about five to 10 minutes and consider stretching after you have exercised because your muscles will be more pliable.

If you look for balance in these basics of fitness and you will find balance in your life as you attain a more ideal weight and become more fit.

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