Looking For Your Happy Balance? The Perfect Workout

iStock_000005860412XSmallYoga. Cardio. Weights.  How much do I need?

Hi Allison

Please help me find my happy balance.  Yoga, cardio, and weights.  These are the three kinds of workouts that I enjoy most.  How much do I need for a happy balanced workout program?  Does yoga provide enough weight bearing activity for building bone density?  Is cardio exercise alone enough to keep me healthy and strong?  How much of each do I need for my happy balanced workout?

Thanks, Your Student

Dear Happy Student,

Your positive and happy approach to finding the perfect workout for yourself is the right attitude. We need to package your jolly enthusiasm and pass it around the world.  Although happiness, positivity, optimism and enthusiasm are not necessarily scientific terms they are significant when designing an effective and well-balanced workout regimen.  A good attitude is often all it takes to be successful.   Success is 99% attitude, to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau.

Let’s put the bottom line on the mat first.  In 2005 the guidelines from the U.S. Surgeon General and The Institute of Medicine basically stated that if Americans want to maintain a healthy weight and promote good health they must exercise 30-90 minutes a day depending on weight and present physical status.  Striving to get as much physical activity as you can on most days is recommended. 30 minutes a day if you are a person of normal body weight and you just want the physical benefits of being physically active, 60 minutes if you want to control your weight, and 90 minutes if you want to lose weight and sustain your happy self.  The idea is to keep your heart pounding and pumping, your blood flowing and your metabolic fire burning.

Taking your physical fitness goals to the next level would involve creating that “happy balance” of cardiovascular training, strength and weight bearing activity, and stretching, flexibility and balance exercise.  The combination of these three components on a regular basis will provide you with an effective and well balanced fitness program supporting your best possible health.  Keep in mind, as we age it is critically important that our body functions like a well oiled machine.  Proper maintenance is key!  Consistency is required!  Keep your heart strong with cardio, your bones strong with weight training and your muscles and joints strong and supple with  flexibility exercise.  Here are some suggestions for each component of a happily balanced fitness program.  Cardio. Strength. Flexibility.

Cardiovascular Fitness:

Power Walking, Jogging, Running, Snow Trekking, Dancing, Kickboxing, Basketball and Jumping rope.  These activities are also very respectable lower body bone builders.

Swimming, biking, downhill and cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are great for keeping your heart and lungs strong.

Weight Bearing Exercises

Personally, I feel that weight training with free weights is the most effective method for building muscle mass and bone density.  Yes, there are healthy bone building benefits with yoga, but I do not rely on yoga alone to keep my muscles and bones strong.  Unless you are chucking wood or lifting and moving furniture for employment you may want to consider adding weight training to your schedule 3-4 times a week.

Stretching  Flexibility  Balance

This is where yoga really tows the line for me. Yoga, Pilates, Ballet, and various forms of the Martial Arts are exceptional for increasing and maintaining balance and flexibility. I can not stress enough the importance of this kind of exercise for women. Particularly as we age. Yoga specifically, helps to keep muscles and connective tissue strong and healthy, improves balance and enhances our overall sense of well being. The benefits of yoga are numerous and really deserve more than a few sentences. Therefore, I will address this topic specifically in a future health and fitness post.

So, there you have it! Your happy balance.  Simply stated, you should exercise most days of the week, incorporating some form of cardiovascular activity, weight training, flexibility, and balance work for optimal fitness.  I know you didn’t ask but of course I am going to remind you of the importance of a healthy diet.  You have been reminded!  I’m always here for your health and fitness Q’s. Allison

If you are new to exercise, over 40, taking certain medications or have a pre-existing medical condition please check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

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  1. Pat Holihan says:

    Hi Allison
    I am very impressed with your approach toward exercise. Are you available to help me design a core strengthening workout I can do at home? I live in the W. Bloomfield area.
    Pat Holihan

    • Hi Pat- I would be happy to help you out with an at-home core strengthening program. Perhaps I will address this in our You Ask We Answer dept. this way we can help other women at home as well. Please tell me about your present fitness program, limitations, if any, your age and your goals. This will help me design an appropriate program for you. Many thanks. I will look forward to hearing from you soon. Allison

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