So many exercises, so little time.
Are you spooked by birthdays? One young friend of mine recently lamented that he was turning thirty. I replied, “A mere child.” And so, it is.
As a woman that the French describe as being an un femme d’un certain âge, I found his panic humorous. Although that respectful French phrase originally described a stylish woman of forty or over, with our life expectancy piercing the glass ceiling, sixty is now the new forty. Perhaps seventy will be the new fifty. We shall see.
Genetics play a significant part of how well we age, as does lifestyle choices. For example, I know several cosmetic and plastic surgeons who flatly refuse to work on a woman who smokes. Even if you have given cigarettes the heave-ho, a bit of Vitamin C is still a great idea. One cannot heal or make new tissues without Vitamin C. Collagen, that magic tissue that connects other tissues, drinks up all the Vitamin C it can get—so feed it with 1000 milligrams a day. That is, if every other organ in your body is operating effectively. Your doctor would be very unhappy with mega-doses of any type of vitamin if your kidneys and liver are on strike.
Also, on my list of very important vitamins for women is B 12. For some unfathomable reason, women do not sleep as well as men. Perhaps this is due to our role as mothers. We must hear those babies cry, even if they are over forty.
How does exercise help us? Let me count the ways. Most exercise physiologists will divide exercise into three sectors. The first is aerobic. This includes brisk walking, riding a bike or going up and down stairs. The object here is to get your heart rate up…. just enough but not too much.
To calculate your target health rate, this is the magic formula: 220 minutes minus your age. That is the maximum that your heart should reach. It is the Goldilocks of heart fitness. The Mayo Clinic has additional formulas that add more math, a subject I quit during first grade.
I remember the less complicated formula from my long -ago career as a gym rat. The truth is that the club we belonged to had free babysitting, and that was the main reason we joined. While the CDC and the Mayo Clinic advise taking the pulse during exercise at the wrist, alongside the thumb using two fingers, I always liked the method of taking the pulse at the neck, on the carotid artery. As an RN, I checked the carotid to see if someone was alive or not. The habit has stayed with me.
Obviously, a twenty -year old has a different tolerance for exercise than someone well over forty. Resting heart rates for newborn infants are very high-220 beats a minute on average. We grow -ups should have something between 60-100 beats per minute. Someone who is in top condition can sometimes weigh in at a puny 40 beats a minute.
Aerobic exercise is a professional at lowering cholesterol. Battling your gym’s elliptical it is only one form of exercise. Weight training is also important to do once or twice a week. Then, we come to my favorite form of exercise—yoga. I also love Pilates. Many studies have confirmed that flexibility and balance is the cherry on top of anyone’s routine. An extra added bonus to yoga and Pilates is that both strengthen your core. If you have a strong core, your aging back won’t quit on you. The pioneer Joseph Pilates used to call the entire mid-section the “powerhouse.”
Yoga is a mind-body exercise. Yes, it is entirely possible to tone your muscles and burn calories with some classes, but please do not kill yourself in the process. One of my yoga teachers once told us that if all we could do was come to class and breathe, then we were accomplishing our mission. At times when my friend and yoga teacher Margarita Yoga is running me through various poses, I imagine hundreds of miniature liposuction doctors at work on my thighs. Work on, my friends! Catch Margarita Yoga on Facebook, or, better yet take her class in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico.
Yoga is moving meditation and breathing correctly is a discipline that reduces stress and increased concentration. Pilates, which founder Joseph Pilates used to call “Contrology,” is a close cousin to yoga. We can control very little in life, so feel free to stretch, breathe, and tighten your core. The Mayo Clinic states that one should “…listen to your own body.” It is quite possible that at this moment, yoga and Pilates teachers globally are repeating the mantra, “Listen to your body.”