The Winning Exercise Combo to Live Longer & Stronger

Focused pretty young sportswoman exercising on bicycle in gym

As a personal trainer, I like to approach fitness from a full body perspective. Throughout my experience training women of all ages I’ve found that we’re all striving to not only live longer lives, but better, fuller, lives. We want to live longer. We want to live stronger. And there are a few key components to living healthier lives as we age–and all of them can be met through three basic training methods. By combining resistance training with cardiovascular exercise and a well-planned flexibility and core strength program, you can maximize your youth and enjoy all of your years.

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Resistance Training

Resistance training works in two very important ways to keep us healthy and strong. First, weight lifting increases bone density, and second weight lifting maintains lean muscle mass. By placing stress on the musculoskeletal system, resistance training can slow the process of osteoporosis. Resistance training also has a positive effect on muscle mass and therefore metabolic function. Our lean muscle mass begins to decrease as early as age 30, which can have a detrimental effect on our metabolism. Following a 45-60 minute weight training program 3 days/week can help maintain lean tissues which keeps your metabolism elevated and your weight in control.

Cardiovascular training

Cardiovascular training not only keeps your heart and lungs healthy but it also helps with mental acuteness. Endurance training increases capillary density and lowers blood pressure by lowering vascular resistance. Maintaining a lower blood pressure is important for decreasing your risk of heart disease and related ailments.

Cardiovascular training also increases the brain’s ability to learn and maintain a functional memory by reinforcing communication between specific neurons that are responsible for improved learning and information retention. This is often referred to as BDNF, or Brain Derived Neuron Factor. Many studies have shown a positive correlation between cardiovascular exercise and BDNF. Do high intensity cardiovascular training at about 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate for 30-45 minutes 3-5 days/week. You can also combine longer and lower intensity workouts with shorter higher intensity workouts  to stay lean, healthy, and focused.

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Stretching and Core Strengthening

Maintaining a stretching and core strengthening program can aid in the prevention of common joint and back injuries. Many injuries are a result of misuse rather than overuse. Proper length tension relationships between muscle groups play a vital role in keeping joints healthy and strong. Make sure to balance your resistance training with proper stretching and flexibility training. Yoga and Pilates can both be helpful. Core strength includes not only strong abdominals but also a strong back and proper hip mobility. By moving through a full range of motion, engaging in dynamic stretching, and staying consistent in flexibility exercises you are building a body that is both strong and nimble.

A balanced combination of strength training, cardiovascular training, and stretching is the perfect equation for a healthy body that will be capable of carrying you through the demands of an invigorating full life. Health and fitness is about you and the life that you want to lead, not just now but for all of your days.

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Jennifer Lutz is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. She trains private clients around New York City and at Equinox Fitness. It’s her goal to help women live healthier, happier lives. Follow her on Twitter at @JLutzFitness.