One of the basic strategies of exercise is to make sure that not only are you doing it, but that you are doing the right combination of things. While there are many choices that can accomplish this goal, this part is left up to the individual, but there are 3 basic components required in an effective fitness routine.
1. Cardio. You need this not only to exercise your heart, which is a muscle, but you also need this for fat burning. All the yoga in the world will not give you what you need that comes from doing cardio, although yoga is excellent for stretching and flexibility. Are you a jogger or a runner, do you take spin class, Zumba, ride bicycles or play tennis? Whatever your exercise of choice, make sure that you are doing a cardio exercise that raises your heart rate.
My exercise of choice is walking. It is easy, and I can do it either in or outdoors. I walk 12-15 miles a week and a 13 minute per mile clip. Many of the athletes and the younger whipper snappers whiz past me, but they are quickly gone while I am on the track for 45 minutes. My personal preference is track over treadmill, although the treadmill can be adjusted for speed and inclines and the treadmills at my gym have TVs. I also prefer fast walking to running so that I won’t bang up my knees. I am middle-aged and want to take precautions. Whatever works for you and keeps you moving is what you must do and remember you should do this a minimum of 3 times a week.
2. Resistance Training or good old-fashioned weight training. For the ladies who are reading, this doesn’t mean that you are to look masculine by any means or that you are in competition of becoming a female equivalent to the Incredible Hulk. I am a 110 pound female who goes and lifts weights and uses the machines 3 times a week. You must develop those muscles in order to help you burn the fat. Whatever else you are doing, include the weight training! If you play league tennis or you are the Zumba queen or king, you still need to strengthen your muscles. While you get a lot of good strength conditioning from pilates, make sure that you are getting some supplemental resistance from weight training to develop those muscles for optimum burn. Don’t forget, the more toned you are, the more calories you burn at rest.
3. Stretching. While Cardio and Strength Training are the two main things to have an effective exercise routine, I’m going to add one more thing which I don’t consider a primary essential component, but a definite secondary item and that is stretching. Weight training tends to make the muscles contract so some post exercise stretching will help elongate them. Think of how much stretching is involved in a ballet warmup as ballerinas must be very limber. Be sure to include some stretching exercises at the end of your workout. Also note that some sports have recommended warmups before you begin them as well.
While there are many varied ways to get your exercise and almost an endless selection of wonderful classes, the main thing here is to make sure that you get consistent cardio and strength/resistance training supplemented by stretching. As long as you are consistent and are including these 3 essential components, then your exercise goals will be in reach. Does your exercise routine have cardio, resistance training and stretching? If not, then tweak it and add what you are missing. Your body will appreciate it and you will like the results!