Improve Your Health and Maximize Your Overall Lifestyle

Edited by Mary Lloyda, Leomar Umpad, Lynn, Eng and 3 others

What drives a man or woman to work out? Chances are, you never even thought to ask yourself that when you drove your out-of-shape body over to the nearest sweatshop, enrollment fee in one hand and a fistful of dreams in the other. The most obvious reason, of course, would be so that you can look like a model on a runaway in your designer logo-infested gym wear, smiling smugly at first-timers struggling with a few measly weight plates, as you yourself prepare to set a new achievement.

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Okay, so that in itself may be a valid reason -- to appear gorgeous. But have you ever considered that the membership form you've just signed can also pretty much be a contract for an extension of your life? Sure, everyone tells you that losing your gut could spell the difference between a heart attack and seeing your grandchildren someday. And chances are, you scoffed at them when it wasn't convenient for you to work out, right? After all, it's easier to forgo pain and sweat for a bottle or five of ice-cold lager. But an aerobic workout, done properly and on time, halves your risk getting heart diseases and stroke by up to 70 percent.

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Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic fitness, the main factor here, is defined as the efficiency at which your body converts oxygen into raw power, and aerobic exercises are those that create an increased demand for oxygen over an extended period of time. That means that anything that leaves you wishing you had an oxygen tank build into your body, like jogging, cycling, or even jumping rope, is considered an aerobic exercise.

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The effects of regularly sweating buckets are undeniable. But the best rewards are the central effects found in the heart, lungs, and the blood distribution system. The heart experiences an improved ability to burn the fat around it, and a possible increase in capillaries. Endurance athletes experience an increase in the volume of blood pumped, which is called cardiac hypertrophy, and a decrease in the resting heart rate. Lungs experience a decreased residual volume, or the amount of air left in the lungs after exhaling, and a more efficient air intake. Effects can also be found peripherally, such as an improved ability for muscles to burn fat. Ligaments and tendons improve in their functional capabilities, and the nervous system becomes more efficient.

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All that and the change in your body that allows you to lounge at the beach without being mistaken for a sea cow? What's not to like? So sign that contract and don't look back. With a little ambition and a lot of heart, you'll soon be feeling fitter, faster, and tougher.

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Things to Follow

  1. 1
    The perfect gym.
    The starting step, and perhaps the most important one, in your quest for aerobic fitness is finding the right gym for you. You may think, "Hi,, this place is always in the news, so it must be great, right?" Well, not really. It may impress people when you tell them you work out a gym with all the latest weight equipment, but then again, weight training is not the focal point of aerobic fitness. Word-of-mouth is a great indicator, but what works for some may not be apt for others, particularly beginners. In the same manner, it may be cool to go to a seedy little gym with hard-looking trainers, but they may not have the proper training to know which level to start you out. Check the place out yourself. That includes the commute to and from, factoring in the travel time and amount of stress you have to endure during the trip. If the place is far or too stressful to visit, chances are you'll get tired of working out there really soon. Once there, look at the equipment and environment. Is the place well ventilated and adequately lit? Accidents may happen due to a lack of attention to both factors. Check if they have an adequate number of the basic cardio exercise machines (treadmill, stationary bike, cross training machine, and maybe a rowing machine), because a long wait is detrimental to your drive to exercise.
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  2. 2
    Level finder.
    Obviously, different people have different physical thresholds. The key to becoming an efficient aerobic machine is to find your own personal level of exertion. Just marching along at a steady pace until you get bored isn't going to help you any, and neither is pushing yourself to the point of injury. It is suggested that shifting between long workouts and ones that are short and harsh, yet within your limits, is best. Good gyms will, upon your signing up, put you through a series of questionnaires and physical tests to determine your own personal level and pace of training, and develop a program specifically made for you. This program will take into account your present physical state and any risks involved, and will ensure that you remain focused on your goal, whether it be to lose weight, gain muscle, or just get rid of that cigarette emanating from your lungs. One of the best ways to judge your effort is to work with your personal trainer to use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. Make it a habit to give yourself a score from zero to 10 for how you're feeling during exercise, with zero equivalent to how you'd feel doing your best impersonation of a potato spud. This tells you how hard you're exerting yourself and helps you set target levels for your workouts.
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  3. 3
    Cross training.
    One of the most prevalent reasons to stop working out is boredom, and of the most effective reasons to combat that is to vary your workouts. The important thing is to not stop working out. Rather, substitute your usual routine for something else once in a while. While changing routines may put other muscle groups to work, these are definitely not detrimental to building up your aerobic system. It is, after all, the same system that powers every single muscle in your body, and anything that involves sweat and physical exertion helps boost it. Plus, it can also reduce the stress put on the body parts and joints you work out more often.
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  4. 4
    Boost your stamina.
    Don't let yourself be caught in a rut while working out. With advice from your trainer, insert regular endurance sessions, or sessions where you work your body harder by working it longer, into your training. Follow the advice given to you by your trainer, because overexertion can lead to physical shock. Take your development slowly and your newly efficient body will thank you. Gauge the amount of effort you're putting out using the RPE scale. It is suggested to keep within range of RPE 3 to 7.
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  5. 5
    Lift weights.
    This may sound weird, but it's better lifting weights during your workouts. Yes, this is definitely an anaerobic exercise. However, powerful muscles are more efficient in burning the fat on them. You don't have to aim to break power lifting records during your workout. Go for multiple sets and reps with medium weight, and go for maximum exertion until muscle failure, not shortness of breath. This is the common practice for those looking for a ripped and sexy body, and will ensure that you don't grow into a steroid caricature of yourself.
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  6. 6
    Break up your workouts.
    Another way to measure your fitness is by measuring the time you need to recover from intense physical activity. The shorter the time, the more aerobically efficient you are. A great way to measure and extend this is to work yourself flat-out at maximal RPE (8 to 10) for around two minutes, then move down to a low-level aerobic endurance pace for a minute (4 to 5). After the minute, go for broke again. The body learns to process oxygen more rapidly, so that more energy can be tapped in a relatively short span of time. Keep in mind, though, that "going for broke" doesn't mean blindly throwing yourself into the workout, with nary a thought for your own safety. Pace yourself well, preferably under the eye of your personal trainer. The goal here is to finish in gasping agony, yet retrain the form and power you started with. If you finish looking like a total wreck, then reevaluate your current session and adjust it until you find your correct pace. Aside from cycling and rowing, you can also try building the speed up on a flat treadmill until you reach an RPE of 6 to 7. Add around two percent evaluation and maintain your pace until you reach RPE 10, then lower your evaluation until your RPE goes back to 6 or 7. Repeat this four or five times, eventually working up to eight reps.
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So what are you waiting for? Get off that sofa and hit the nearest sweatshop now! Follow these tips, listen to your trainer, and you'll be a lean, easy-breathing paragon of fitness in no time. It could spell the difference between seeing your grandchildren grow up or seeing the undertaker sooner than you expect.

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The RPE Scale

You want to know how hard are you working? Learn to keep track of your level. A good way to measure your RPE (or rate of perceived exertion) is to see how difficult it is to talk during exercise. At 3/10 you can chat, at 5/10 you can only speak in short sentences, while at 7/10, you're only able to say one or two words at a time. Above that, and you're into grunts and groans. A good idea is to assess yourself every few minutes to start with, and try to remember experiences as a reference.

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  • 0 = Nothing
  • 1 = Very light
  • 2 = Light
  • 3 = Light to moderate
  • 4 = Moderate
  • 5 = Slightly heavy
  • 6 = Heavy
  • 7 = Very heavy
  • 8 = Severely heavy
  • 9 = Extremely heavy
  • 10 = Maximal
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
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Categories : Physical Activity & Diet

Recent edits by: Traveller, Ephraim, Eng

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