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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fitness is for Everyone

The other day, I made comment to someone about how my exercise was going to be restricted in a couple of weeks and I was not thrilled about the idea of being forced to take time off. Obviously, certain situations require certain behaviors, and I'm more than happy to cooperate and follow doctor's orders, don't get me wrong, but the comment I received in response threw me for a loop and it's not the first time I've heard it. The person I was talking with responded by saying, "You don't need to work out. You're skinny. Who cares?" Rather than getting on my soapbox right then and there, I decided to save my speech for you, my readers, and hope you can help me to educate others as well, as I feel this topic is of epic importance.

While I definitely enjoy the benefits to my physical appearance of working out, such as a thinner waistline, sculpted arms, less jiggle, etc., the main reason I exercise is to stay healthy, not just skinny. I want other "skinny" people to realize the importance of working out as well. Exercise is necessary for EVERYONE, not just people trying to lose weight. Even skinny people may be unhealthy. Have you ever heard the term skinny fat? It sounds like an oxymoron but it's a real condition where a person looks thin on the outside, due to high metabolism, a minimal diet, smoking, or a number of other factors, but on the inside, their body composition is that of an overweight person. Sad, huh? So many women think that just because they can fit into a small size, they have nothing to worry about, when in fact, they may be worse off than a heavier person who gets physical activity into his or her day. If you had to pick between just two body types, which would you rather be--skinny and unhealthy, or a little heavier with a tight, fit body? I choose the latter.

It's healthiest to have a low body fat percentage, even if your body is bigger. Belly fat is the most dangerous of all. Even if you are "thin," you may have visceral fat deep inside your abdomen, encasing your organs, so be sure to use your muscles and move your body to keep that internal fat at bay. We all want to live long healthy lives, and look good too. Here's some ways to help you get fit as a fiddle both inside and out.

One of the easiest things you can do, first off, is make sure you are getting enough sleep. The journal Sleep found that people who sleep less than 5 hours a night are more likely to gain belly fat. I've also heard that stress can cause encourage the accumulation of body fat as well so try to keep that to a minimum as well. It's also better for your mental health to curb stress. Staying positive can help your waistline as well. Depression is directly related to deposits of visceral fat. Exercise, especially with a friend, can help lift your mood and help burn fat, a double whammy in this case.

Second, pump some iron. So many women are afraid of strength training, thinking it will cause them to bulk up, but I am living, breathing proof that that kind of thinking is incorrect. I read time and time again that strength training is the only way to drop body fat and change body composition. I have always worked out, but lifting weights changed my body more than any other activity did. I love the way it makes me look and feel and I get lots of positive feedback from others as well. Check out Oxygen magazine for some great workouts, or set up a session with a trainer, such as myself, if you need some tips on how to get started.

Stay hydrated, with water, not soda, even if it is diet soda. It's many fitness model's number one tip for keeping a tight middle. It curbs cravings, keeps your body systems running smoothly, helps your skin look better, gives you energy, and if practically free. Don't ever pass up a chance for a big glass of water.

Also, don't neglect your cardio. Get your heart pumping doing something you enjoy (biking, walking, running, swimming) for a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 times a week. I get my cardio in when I'm doing strength training by doing circuits and multi-joint exercises, such as squats, lunges, and push ups. I bet you can squeeze in 5 sitcoms a week so surely you can squeeze in some exercise. You owe it to yourself.

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