A sound exercise program for weight management and muscle definition includes both cardiovascular and strength training — regardless of your body frame size. If you gain weight easily, consult with a registered dietitian for a personalized meal plan to help you maintain a healthy weight while fueling your active lifestyle.
Cardiovascular exercise includes activities like brisk walking, swimming, group fitness classes like cycling or Zumba®, and using gym equipment like ellipticals, treadmills, rowers, and stair climbers. Burning calories, boosting endurance, elevating mood, strengthening muscles and bones, and reducing risk of chronic disease are just a few of the benefits of this type of exercise. Start by gradually working up to 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
Strength training helps mitigate the loss of muscle that typically occurs with aging; it preserves the muscle mass you need to maintain a healthy metabolism and the strength for activities of daily living. Don’t let a fear of bulking up stop you from including this important type of exercise in your fitness plan; it’s unusual for men or women to gain large amounts of muscle mass when following general strength-training guidelines.
A basic program targets the major muscle groups (legs, hips, core, chest, shoulders, arms, back) twice a week; select a resistance level that allows you to complete no more than 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise; rest for at least 30-90 seconds in between sets; and allow for at least 48 hours for rest and recovery in between strength training sessions. A variety of equipment is available for strength training; proper alignment and form is easier to maintain on weight machines, making them a great way to get started.
For safety, talk with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. And for best results, work with a certified personal trainer for a complete assessment of your fitness status, a training plan tailored to your needs, and expert support to help you achieve your goals.