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UAMS Women's Health Newsletter
4 Steps to Spring Into Fitness
The weather’s getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and it’s time to think about summer wardrobes – lower necklines, sleeveless tops, shorter hemlines – and even yikes! bathing suits.

Don’t panic just yet. There’s still time to get in shape. The good news is you don’t have to spend hours every day at the gym to shed a few pounds and see a difference in your body. Just a half hour of exercise several days a week is enough to significantly improve your health.

“The best exercises are those that increase your heart rate and move large muscles such as those in your legs and arms,” says Amy Phillips, one of our OB/GYN doctors at UAMS.
“Walking is popular because you can walk almost anywhere, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. Other good exercises include swimming, biking, jogging and any kind of aerobic activity such as dance. Just taking the stairs or parking further away from the store will add activity to your daily routine and help with your fitness goals.”

Getting Started
If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start your new exercise program slowly. Start off with 20 minutes of activity three or more times a week, and work up to at least 30 minutes five times a week. You can do several smaller segments of activity in a day – 10 minutes three times a day is just fine. If you have some health issues, you may need to check with your doctor

Goals often help people stay on track with exercise programs. One popular fitness program that works well for many women is a “couch to 5K” program that gradually increases your activity over six weeks to prepare you to compete in a 5K (that’s about three miles of walking or running).
Sign up for a local walk or race that interests you, and use the approaching event as a motivator for your fitness plan. These beginner-friendly training programs are good for preparing for a 5K event. There are several websites that can help you find a 5K race in your area.
Heart Smart Exercise
Even a little bit of exercise is better than none. As you become more active, try to keep your heart rate at 60 to 85% of your maximum heart rate.
To figure out what your target heart rate is, subtract your age in years from 220. This is your maximum heart rate. To determine your target heart rate for exercise, multiply this number by 0.6 or 0.85.

For example, if you are 40 years old, subtract 40 from 220, which gives you a maximum heart rate of 180 (220 - 40 = 80). Multiply 80 by 0.60 and 0.85 to find your target heart rate. The target heart rate for a 40-year-old is 108 beats per minute to 153 beats per minute.

Start out at the low end of your target heart range and gradually work your way up to a more vigorous workout. Check your pulse by gently placing two fingers on the side of your neck and counting the beats for one minute.

Start Early
Research shows that people who exercise in the morning are less likely to skip their workout. One theory is that the only battle you have to fight at 5 a.m. is with the alarm clock, but when you have eight hours to come up with an excuse, the workout is doomed.

Another plus of an early-morning workout is that you can exercise before you shower for the day, cutting down on workout recovery time. Some morning workouts can be done in your bedroom or living room so you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas.

The bedside workout routine takes only a few minutes and will help get your mind and body going for a busy day.

Make it a Family Affair
When the weather’s warm and it’s still light outside after dinner, resist the urge to plop down in front of the TV. Take the family outside for a fun activity, and you’ll all benefit. Here are some tips to kick off a family exercise program for this spring and summer.
  • Talk with your spouse about the importance of exercise and ways to incorporate more activity into your schedule
  • Encourage your children to participate in sports. Sports will help improve coordination, balance and fitness and build life skills such as cooperation and teamwork.
  • Support and motivate other members of your family.
  • While you walk, invite your children to ride their bikes by your side. Include nightly walks after dinner or weekend morning bike rides in your routine.
  • Plan family outings at a park. Pick-up games of basketball or catch will increase your heart rate.
  • Activities such as gardening, painting and house cleaning also burn calories and count toward your fitness goals. Doing almost any physical activity together can help keep you healthy.
  • Give fitness-oriented gifts such as skates, bicycles, baseball gloves, and spend time together using the new gear.
  • Learn a new sport together. Take a family tennis class or attend a rock-climbing session.
  • Reward yourselves. Set goals and celebrate fitness milestones with a family outing. 
To learn more, please visit the UAMS Health Library

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