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Pillars of Fitness

Cardiovascular exercises such as running on the treadmill and working the step machine all work the most important muscle-your heart. Regular cardiovascular exercise is a prescription against heart disease, the leading cause of death for Canadians. Also, the calories burned can help shed a little leftover winter insulation.

The best way to lose weight, though, is to increase metabolic rate. While many methods such as eating small, frequent meals, drinking green tea, and sitting in the sauna have been suggested, one surefire way to boost slow metabolism is to increase lean body mass by lifting weights.

Another essential benefit of pumping weights is the significant increase in bone strength, which is important given that 1.4 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis.

Mara’s best choice, then, will be to combine cardiovascular training with weight training. With only so much time in her day, though, how can Mara do both forms of exercise in an effective, time-efficient manner? Here are some guidelines to help cardiovascular and weight training live in peaceful co-existence.

To obtain solid results, weight training should be performed at least three times each week. As for cardiovascular exercise-be it a vigorous spinning class or a long walk in the park-four to five times in any given week would be ideal.

A cardiovascular session at an elevated heart rate should last between 25 and 35 minutes. On the other hand, a good weight-training session should take roughly 45 minutes to complete. Circuit training that combines weight training with cardiovascular exercise will allow Mara to get the best results. All she needs to do is move quickly between weight-training exercises with as little rest as possible.

Like many gym goers, Mara might prefer to work at moderate intensity, but current research shows that working at a more challenging pace, such as what occurs during circuit training, will help her burn more total fat. Mara should begin with a workload that she finds comfortable and then seek the help of a certified personal trainer to determine how best to progress from there.

To embark on her exercise program, should Mara run on the treadmill or hit the weight room first? Probably the best way to answer this question is to ask her which exercise she likes most and then have her do that last. If she is not fond of pedalling away on the bike, then it is more likely she will put it off if she waits to do it until after she has lifted weights.