This summer I stopped my usual cross country training regimen. I've gained some weight, which is alright, but now my muscles are loose, my thighs are getting flabby and my arms are droopy. What exercises can I do to tighten up again and see results relatively quickly? Saggy Sadie
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Dear Saggy Sadie
You've gotta burn it to earn it. A lack of exercise is going to show in your muscle tone. Doing anaerobic exercise like lifting light weights (and many reps of them) are going to help tighten you up. You've also got to engage in the much dreaded cardio (aerobic exercise) to burn some calories. Eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting lots of rest is necessary too. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
First things first - before you begin any form of exercise, you have to figure out your target heart rate which you can calculate here. Aerobic exercise burns fat, gets your heart rate going and makes your heart strong. It also helps your blood carry oxygen to blood vessels throughout your body.
Make sure that you are reaching your target heart rate for an effective work out, but be careful not to exceed it by too much. Start with at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise as few as three times a week to get started. Fast walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, biking, basketball, jumping rope, hiking, rollerblading, kickboxing, cross-country skiing, and playing tennis are all forms of aerobic exercise.
Anaerobic exercise is also important. This involves building muscle strength in various areas of your body. It helps to build stronger muscles and in conjunction with aerobic exercise helps to burn calories! You will also look and feel toned. Start by strengthening your core by doing reps of push-ups, stomach crunches, lifting weights, (free weights, weight machines) pull-ups and Yoga or Pilates.
The first thing that you've got to do is to make a fitness plan and then commit yourself to stick to it. If it's hard for you to get motivated, then try exercising with a friend or a family member to give one another support. Within a couple of weeks you'll start to feel like your old self again. You'll have more energy, you'll feel stronger and your moods should even improve.