No Exercise Excuses, Ladies | Let's Talk Daily Exercise

Few women reading Body|Body|Health look like Eniko Mihalik, photographed by Alasdair McLellan for the new magazine Gentlewoman Spring 2010. The gorgeous Hungarian Mihalik is quoted as saying she spends not much time in the gym, preferring board games and eating sushi.

As for the rest of us, not only will necessary trips to the gym not go away any time soon, but we must up the ante. There’s rampant confusion in the world of women’s exercise this moment. After reading and digesting the facts, the two new studies actually aren’t contradictory.

One says work harder for shorter periods of time. The other says, sorry, it’s an hour a day for the rest of your life. Before we became a sedentary society, this much exercise each day was a given and not hard to achieve. Even the vacuum cleaner was an exercise aid back in the day.

There is one truth about exercise. Some is better than none. Holding the computer mouse or bouncing a baby doesn’t count for much.

Public health guidelines recommend that children and teenagers exercise one hour every day and adults get a weekly minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking, dancing, gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity (jogging, aerobic dancing and jumping rope).

Having sex at a vigorous pace can burn over one hundred calories per hour, with added benefits of emotional bonding and fun, assuming you have the right attitude in bed and an eager partner. As women age, we need more exercise to maintain weight without dieting. For this reason, I advocate even more time spent in bed, once the kids are grown.

The current guidelines will not keep us from gaining weight without dieting. Period. If you exercise so little, you must curtail calorie consumption.

Now for the truth serum, and it’s not pretty. Researchers recently followed 34,079 middle-aged women, 54 at the start of the study, for about 13 years. The women gained an average of almost 6 pounds during the study.

The 13 percent of women who gained no weight exercised one hour a day and didn’t diet. The results confirm a 2002 Institute of Medicine report that emphasized the importance of balancing diet and exercise and recommended at least 60 minutes daily of moderate activity for adults and children.

To clarify, although the women who exercised daily and didn’t gain weight said they weren’t dieting, there’s every reason to believe that they probably ate a healthier diet. Lifestyle factors tend to cluster among people who take care of their health.

The apparent contradiction between the new report saying that an hour a day is required to prevent weight gain and a late Feb. 2010 CBS News report promoting high intensity exercise for shorter periods is obvious to exercise trainers.

High intensity means just that. Originally developed for Olympians, the exercise was considered too intense for older people. New studies indicate that older people can handle high-intensity exercize, which consist of pushing hard for a few minutes with short rest periods. “High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise,” said Jan Helgerud, an exercise expert at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “This is like finding a new pill that works twice as well … we should immediately throw out the old way of exercising.”  via CBS News

Research has shown those doing interval training can double their endurance, improve their oxygen use and strength by more than 10 percent, and their speed by at least 5 percent — even in the elderly.

I will add that not only is oxygen circulation important in our bodies but also in our brains. Think of the concept of vitality. When oxygen is circulating throughout our bodies, exery molecule of life inside us is pulsing and flowing.

On that note, I’m going to the gym, having learned almost 10 years ago, that the above information is 110% true. Anne

All photos via Fashion Gone Rogue

Sources: CBS News; American Health and Beauty; Post Bulletin; CNN; Mother Nature Network;