A wise person once told me
“You’ve got to look after yourself before you can look after others”
He was right.
With the hectic lifestyle that many women live today, getting fit and staying fit just doesn’t rate high on the priority list. Many of us plain and simple run out of time. Taking the kids to sports, helping with homework, running to the grocery store and keeping the home fires burning all means women tend to put their own needs on the backburner to keep everything else running smoothly. The idea that success is measured by a great career, a well run family, a sparkling and polished home and a bounty of friends to visit with, leaves me feeling exhausted – and I’m only thinking about it. It just isn’t realistic unless youhave unlimited financial resources and can hire a housekeeper, a cook and your boss lets you work only when the kids are in school.
The thing is, women are great at guilt. We get guilty when we take time from our families to grab a bit of ‘R and R’ for ourselves. Even if that ‘R and R’ is actually keeping us healthy. Women who work outside the home often feel the guilt of taking time for a fitness program the most. They stress over the issues of 30 minutes for themselves vs. helping the kids with homework or leaving them at daycare for 45 more minutes each day.
BUT, everyone and everything benefits when mom is in shape, has more energy and is healthy. And there are ways to involve the children, the spouse and even your boss to work a fitness program into your day.
Fitness programs for women become even more important as we age. Exercise will help women to stand taller, be stronger, trimmer, decrease cholesterol and body fat content, regulate periods, decrease risk of stroke, cancer and heart attacks as well as improve their overall sense of well-being.
Before undertaking any fitness program, no matter how safe you think it is, you should consult with your primary care provider to be sure that your plans do not interfere with any current medical conditions. Your medications and your plans about working out need match your current level of conditioning.
There are a huge number of women’s fitness programs that can include a fitness walking program, yoga, aerobics, and even weight lifting. Each of these have their benefits and problems. However, if you value your health and wellness then you will be able to find a solution to the problems.
A women’s walking program, for instance, is simple, cost effective, physically challenging when increasing intensity and walk on hills, and can be done with other moms and the kids in strollers. Pushing a stroller for 30 minutes a day up hills is physically taxing and definitely considered exercise. On bad weather days you can also walk through most malls in America for the hour before the stores actually open. Be careful not to treat yourself to that hot pretzel when the stand opens though, since you might be defeating your intended purpose of weight loss.
Another fitness program of yoga and aerobics have other benefits that make them popular exercises for women. They can be done in the privacy of your own home, while the kids are asleep, using DVDs. You can schedule the time in your day that is most convenient for you; using DVDs you are not bound to the schedule of a yoga class – although most gyms also offer classes and have childcare available. Gyms offer motivation from other women and a time that can be set-aside just for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your friend to join the gym or workout in your home with you. It might be just the motivation she was waiting for!
A fitness program should also include weight lifting. Although many women are afraid of bulking up the potential for this is slim since they don’t normally have enough testosterone to build that kind of muscle. Weight lifting can help to avoid osteoporosis or advanced bone loss leading to fractures. The risk of osteoporosis decreases with weight bearing exercises such as running and weight lifting but not swimming or rowing.
Including weight lifting in your program will help you to build lean muscle, gain strength, trim down and become more toned. You should use the amount of weight that is comfortable doing 10 repetitions for 3 sets each.
Women who are fit have learned to put their health first recognizing that with better health they are also better able to work, advance their careers, take care of their children and the dozen or so other things they do each day.
Women’s programs are becoming more popular across the country as fitness experts are realizing that most women desire to get in to the gym, workout and get out without – the added stress of working out in front of the opposite sex. Where some gyms continue to be arenas that encourage men and women to socialize more Women’s Only fitness programs are developing to answer the needs of the on-the-go fast paced women who has the time only to work out – and get out.