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Tony Little - America's Personal TrainerExercise the Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth: Exercise to Create Lifelong Vitality and Health

The human body needs exercise to survive just as much as it needs food and water. You don't need to become a fitness freak or gym rat to do it. It can be done as simply as moving your body just a little bit more than you did yesterday. How about practicing springing up from the couch and briskly walking about the house on your daily tasks? Bicycle riding is wonderful as are exercise tapes. So is a little yard work, and playing tag with your dog or kids. How about dancing in your living room to your favorite music? Any leisure sport, such as golf, tennis, swimming, kayaking, skating, cycling and love making are all excellent forms of exercise.

That's all it takes to start, and a little exercise (as long as you progressively increase it) goes a long way in contributing to lifelong health.

Aerobic Exercise
Most of the forms of exercise mentioned above are aerobic in nature. In general, that means they are movements done in durations of 20 or more minutes. Done properly, they work up a sweat. To perform aerobic activities your blood must deliver maximum oxygen to the muscles. This oxygenation improves with time, making your heart and entire cardiovascular system healthier.

Aerobic exercise is also a great fat-burner to keep your weight under control. If you are trying to lose weight, aerobic exercise is essential for accomplishing your goals. You'll have a healthier heart and lungs with aerobic exercise, plus avoid the health risks that come along with being overweight.

However, if you want to keep the vitality and strength of your youth for as long as you can, you need muscle too. And the indisputable champion of all time for building muscle is weight training!

Progressive Resistance: Weight Training
While aerobic exercise burns fat fast while you're performing it, progressive resistance exercise has an added plus. Not only do you burn calories on the exercise floor, but also when you leave. It's a fact that weight training can up your metabolism and keep you burning more calories for up to 24 hours!

This metabolic increase also helps you to avoid the yo-yo syndrome of weight loss and weight gain. It helps tighten the skin and prevents age related problems and injuries. Today, progressive resistance exercise has been accepted by all health authorities as the best means to improve health and body appearance.

For men, weight training will develop their muscles rather quickly, but you'll have a look more like Tom Cruise than Arnold. For women, today's programs promote lean, toned and curvaceous muscle more like a ballerina that a discus thrower. It is also a treatment to prevent and lessen osteoporosis.

In addition to the attractive muscle tone, weight training will allow you to maintain (or build) muscle tissue that naturally diminishes as we age. This loss leaves us weak and frail, susceptible to falls and broken bones, making weight training almost mandatory for people in middle-age.

Weight training also increases our metabolism by enhancing our body's muscle-to-fat ratio. One pound of muscle burns approximately 40-50 calories! Maintaining muscle mass will help you maintain a healthy bodyweight and is also a great way to keep you feeling vital and healthy.

We also lose growth hormone as we age. Weight training has been shown to have a beneficial effect on slowing growth hormone loss and may actually increase it. Diminished growth hormone plays a large role in decreased sex drive and energy. Weight bearing exercise has also been proven effective in preventing the onset of osteoporosis.

The Bottom Line
While nutritionists argue endlessly over how we should eat for maximum health (I believe in 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fat), the benefits of sensible exercise have never been questioned. Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your body, health and longevity. All exercise relieves stress, can lower high blood pressure, increase energy levels and improve the functioning of many of our most important organs, including the heart.

I've known many, many people who have exercised smart, and consistently, and though most are now in their 50s, 60s and 70s, I can say that each and every one looks, acts and feels younger than their chronological age. That may be the best proof you need to incorporate a form of exercise into your daily routine, now!

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