One key factor for anti-aging medicine, over which we have control, is the level of activity or formal exercise. It’s important to exercise for a number of reasons. First, exercise will result in the development or maintenance of muscle tissue that is metabolically active.That means it requires energy to function. Energy requires burning calories that is ultimately seen as weight loss. Exercise also results in keeping joints, ligaments and tendons healthy by providing the necessary stress or weight load. You should start in a manner that will be most helpful and appropriate for you. If you have not been engaging in some form of exercise, then simply start by walking to your mailbox, to the end of the street and back or to whatever tolerance is reasonable for you. Remember that exercise is not the same as competition. You are not competing with anyone, but you may gauge your progress by comparing your walking distance or time to your distance or time a month or week before. You should expect some minor soreness when starting any program, but that won’t last if you continue to exercise on a daily basis. How long should you walk? That depends upon your fitness level and as noted before, you may start by simply walking to and from your mailbox. The distance that you walk and the time will gradually increase and will allow you to gauge the degree of your progress. For those of you who are more fit, you can probably begin by walking a greater distance and time, but you don’t have to walk more than 30 minutes each time.

For those who want to graduate to a higher level than walking, I recommend progressive resistive exercise which is more commonly known as weight training.  For the personjust starting a weight training program, remember that you will have to first determine what you want out of the program. If your desire is to improve your health and gain some tone in your muscles, then your routine will be different from the individual who seeks to become the next Mr. or Ms. World. If your program becomes laborious and dreaded, it’s not going to last. Whatever program you decide upon, make it fun!

An example of a beginning program should include an exercise for the large muscles in the front and back of your thighs referred to as the quadriceps and hamstrings respectively. A good beginning exercise for the quadriceps would be leg extensions with a machine made for that purpose. If an appropriate machine is not available, then place a dumbbell in each hand and squat down so that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Pick enough weight and perform 10-12 repetitions of the same maneuver. That is called a “set.” I would recommend performing only one set for each muscle group for the first 3-4 weeks. One of the biggest problems with weight lifting is many people injure themselves by increasing the weight or sets too rapidly. You have to give your muscles time to accommodate and get used to a new exercise routine.

The amount of weight that you choose is very important because a muscle doesn’t grow unless it is challenged. So how do you determine the amount of weight to use? For large muscle groups, like the quadriceps and hamstrings, a set should be comprised of 10-12 repetitions. The last repetition should be much harder to perform than the first few. When it is not, then the weight is too light. If you are unable to complete your last repetition, then the weight is too heavy!

After finishing a set, each for the quadriceps and hamstrings, you should then perform an exercise for your back incorporating primarily the latissimus dorsi muscle. While holding a dumbbell in one hand, you bend forward while supporting yourself with your free hand. The weight is allowed to swing freely with the arm hanging straight downward. The weight is then pulled upward to your chest and lowered a total of 10-12 times for one set and then perform the same exercise set on the opposite side. When using a machine, the same muscle group is exercised by pulling a weight downward behind the neck or to the chest, using a pulley system. Next should be an exercise for the chest. Bench presses with dumbbells are excellent for this purpose. An appropriate weight is selected that one can lift 10 times in the same fashion as previously discussed. The dumbbells start at the chest level and are pushed upward while you lie supine on a bench made for that purpose. The palms can remain forward or they can face each other. Then an exercise for the biceps and triceps, with dumbbells, can be performed for ten repetitions.the very best type of weight training because you must bring into action accessory muscles that work to hold the weight in place in space. With a machine, the weight is held for you. With a barbell, you use two hands to control the weight and with dumbbells, you are forced to concentrate in using stabilizing muscles by only using one extremity. Take my word for it, dumbbells are superior. For those who are not accustomed to exercising, machines would be a better choice.

After a month or so, the interested person can increase the number of sets to two and up to three after an additional month. Regardless of how many sets are incorporated, a workout time should never exceed 45-50 minutes. If a workout is completed prior to the 45-50 minute limit, consider using some type cardiovascular exercise for the remaining time. That can be achieved with a stationary bicycle, rowing machine, stair climber and treadmill. The minimum length of time for cardiovascular training should not be less than 20 minutes once you are well into a training program.

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