All About Fitness

Exercise and Fitness: Questions & Answers

Gina Jackson - Fitness Trainer
Vital Health Zone is proud to announce Gina Jackson, who is our resident exercise and fitness expert and who is available to answer all your questions about exercising and fitness. Gina has a private practice and is available for consultation.

Gina answers all your exercise and fitness questions below:

Q: My husband and I are in our late 50's. We're about about to retire and are both out of shape but physically healthy.

My husband has declared we're going to take 1 year off and slowly get into a daily routine of exercise - 5-6 hours a day and healthy eating. Gym, walking, bicycling etc.

Have you had any experience with this amount of exercise and is there a program for us? We're both very excited about the prospect.


A: Congratulations on your upcoming retirement! It is good to be comfortable and make healthy choices in the process.

I like your husband's "declaration" about taking 12 months to change your lifestyle. It will take some time, discipline, determination and "stick-to-it-ivness" to form new habits for the rest of your life. It is possible for late bloomers and I do have a few ideas and cautions for your to consider.

Healthy eating will be important, along with 6-8 hours of restful sleep, for sure Carol. It is the 5-6 hours a day of exercise for two late-bloomers that are admittedly "out of shape" that worries me. It is very hard to go from zero to running a marathon, 5 minute mile on desire and willfulness alone. Your excitement is admirable and very important. To keep it as a motivator, I would make the following recommendations to begin the process:

1) Plan to invest time and money with a Certified Professional Trainer. It will be very easy to fall back into poor form and habits, hurt yourself and thus throw aside your 12 month plan in less than a month without the support, advise and modifications required for starting a new program at this stage of your life. The dollar invested will save you hours of pain and recovery.

2) Find and join an organized group exercise class/program to support flexibility training, e.g., pilates, yoga, tai chi or martial arts. Building strength and new muscle will require stretching and lengthening that each of these disciplines can provide. Everything you do will be noticeably easier with flexibility training added to your regimen.

3) Plan to use a massage therapist (bi-monthly) to iron out the kinks your body will run into with the new program approach you are planning to pursue.

I believe if you plan to incorporate these three variables into your 12-month lifestyle re-design, you will find that moderation is key to the success of fitness and longevity. In my experience, amateur and professional body-builders who compete for titles on the world stage workout 5-6-7 days a week (not hours a day) and incorporate cardio 30-40 minutes and 1-2 hour workouts a day.

I provide personal training to non-athletes, such as yourselves, and recommend a 3-4 day/week cardio program; incorporating walking, cycling, running, elliptical, swimming, etc for 40-50 minutes and a 3 day/week 60-minute, upper/lower body split in the gym with the use of the equipment for muscle development, strength and toning. For most people, I advise doing cardio on the alternate days, i.e., Strength Training on M/W/F and Cardio Training on Tu/Th/Sat. Further, as a Certified Pilates Instructor, I also advise my clients to utilize 1-2x day/week of stretching and toning through pilates, yoga or tai-chi, for the reasons mentioned earlier. For example, one of these classes can be incorporated preceding/following a cardio session with great benefit for the overall body and psyche.

In this moderate approach to fitness and health, the muscles being work are given a chance for rest and recovery; the cardiovascular system is challenged with focused attention; flexibility and toning can be achieved with the mind/body programs. Lastly, by moderating your approach to the end goal, you are more likely to stay in the game and the process and enjoy the benefits free of pain and restriction.

Please come back and let us know how you are doing in about 6 months, won't you?


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