Women's Wellness Series: Resolution Solution Part V - Cardio

Posted by Angie Quehl on Feb 8, 2011 1:57:00 PM

Cardiovascular Exercise for Women...

cardiovascular exercise for women

Also referred to as aerobic exercise, aerobics, or simply cardio. What is it and how much do you need? Before we talk about how much cardio you should do, you should at least know why it's so important.

Cardiovascular exercise simply means that you're involved in an activity that raises your heart rate to a level where you're working but can still talk.

Benefits of cardiovascular exercise:

  • It's one way to burn calories and help you lose weight
  • It makes your heart strong so that it doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood
  • It increases your lung capacity
  • It helps reduce the risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • It makes you feel good
  • It helps you sleep better
  • It helps reduce stress

I could go on all day, but you get the point.

Bottom line:

You need cardio if you want to get your weight under control and get your stress to a tolerable level.

To get these great benefits you must perform at the correct intensity.  One way to monitor your intensity is your heart rate. This can be done on specifically designed equipment or with a portable heart rate monitor, such as Polar, that you wear.  Your heart rate is how fast your heart is beating per minute and is expected to increase as the level of exercise increases. In order to reap the positive benefits, you need to elevate your heart rate to the appropriate level.  This range is 50% - 85% of your resting heart rate, which is very individualized. 

Here is a quick calculation to find where you should be…

For women:
226 - (your age) = your maximum heart rate

For example, if you are a 32-year-old woman: subtract 32 from 226

226 - 32 = 194

Then take that number and multiply it by .5, to get your lower end of your target zone. And then multiply that same number by .85 to get the upper end of your zone. For example:

194 x .5 = 97


194 x .85 = 164.9

So, for a 32-year-old woman, an estimate of her maximum heart rate is 194. And her target heart rate zone is between 97 and 164.9 heartbeats per minute.

The closer you push yourself to the top portion of your “zone”, the more benefits you will obtain (and quicker!)


What should you do with that info????

Now that we know why we need it, let’s talk about how much

The 'official' guidelines say 30-60 minutes most days of the week, but don't feel like you have to start at that level if you're not ready.  Perhaps you split the time up throughout the day. What counts is at the end of the day you have increased your movement!


question markHave questions? Thoughts you would like to share? Tips that you believe may be helpful for other Readers? Click the link or submit them in the Comments Section below! 

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Topics: women's health, Women's Wellness, health tips, cardiovascular exercise, cardio, exercise programs for women, the women's club

Say NO to that added 5-7 Pounds this Holiday Season!

Posted by Angie Quehl on Nov 16, 2010 2:14:00 PM

First things first. Everyone knows that the holiday season brings with it days when you are short on time and events that are typically long on food options. Everything seems to be in excess. At this time of the year, people tend to either remain really strict about their diet and exercise program or toss it all together for the six weeks of the "holiday period" according to Sue Cummings, MD at the General Hospital Weight Center in Boston. Clearly, there are better options in both scenarios that will allow you to enjoy all of the good foods you only get once a year without blowing off all of the hard work you have put in from January to November!

woman eating brownie resized 600

Keep in mind that the holidays are just that, DAYS not weeks or months.  After every holiday event, make sure to head back to your normal eating routine. Also, watch the calories in your favorite holiday spirits. Alcohol contains empty calories that can quickly add up. If you are curious about how many calories are in your favorites visit: http://www.wastedcalories.com/cocktails.html

Try using the 80/80 approach.  Janet Laubgross, Ph. D., a Fairfax-based weight management psychologist suggests that " 80% of the time you do 80% of the things that are healthy for you. During the other 20%, let go a little and enjoy small portions of your favorite foods." It is the thought of "blowing your diet" or trying to deprive yourself that sends most folks into a downward spiral. If you slip up and violate your own regimen all is not lost! Take it in stride and get back in the saddle the next day.

Avoid a fridge full of temptation.  Toss leftovers or send them home with your guests. Donating extra food to a local food bank is also a good idea to keep you from doing the midnight run to the fridge to indulge in holiday temptations. Out of sight, out of mind!

Make time for yourself this season.  Penciling in "downtime" can be key in avoiding the exhaustion that can lead to making poor food choices. Make sure you find time to exercise even if it is just as few a 30 minutes and few times a week. Group exercise classes can also be a fun way to reduce stress. You will find that taking a little time to yourself will help you get through the stresses of the holiday that can contribute to weight gain.

Be careful of where you indulge.  Don't burn up calories on something that you really don't enjoy or can get at any time of the year. Save your "splurge moments" for the holiday treats you are just wild about like grandma's pumpkin pie or Aunt Jane's world-famous mac & cheese. Make every calorie in those once-a-year pleasure count!

Take time to savor the flavors of the holiday.  Give everything you eat this holiday your full attention. Practice what Dr. Cummings calls "mindful eating." The basic principle is simple and sound...if you eat something distractedly it does not register. Even if it is something small, take time to put it on a plate, sit down and really ENJOY it. Don't taste test while you are cooking or stand over the buffet table at a party. Even though you are only taking in small amounts of food at a time, those calories count and can add up before you know it!

Be in control of what you are eating.  It can be very difficult at times to pass on sweet treats offered by your host or hostess at a holiday event, but chances are they will be too busy with other guests to notice what you are eating. Don't be impolite but you are the captain of your waistline and you should be able to pass on whatever you like. For the does and don't of buffets visit:  http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0846/is_4_23/ai_111146684/

Maintain, don't gain.  If you can maintain your weight through November and December consider yourself successful! The holidays are the WORST times to try and actively work on shedding pounds. The best present you could give yourself is not adding the stress of trying to stick to a weight loss program to the equation. Continue to exercise and be mindful of your portion sizes and you will find the scale tipping in your favor at season's end!




Topics: women's health, exercises for women, Women's Wellness, health tips, fitness tips, fitness for women, exercise programs for women, weight loss for women, nutrition

Is Pilates a Waste of Time or a Gold Mine of Fitness for Women?

Posted by Angie Quehl on Sep 28, 2010 11:30:00 AM


"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." -- Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86.

Can you imagine using precious gym time to perform small, precise movements that strengthen muscles deep in the body that can't even be seen?

To many women that sounds like a waste of precious gym time. Exercise without extreme sweating and heavy weight lifting doesn't feel like 'real' exercise, especially to women indoctrinated in the 'no pain, no gain' philosophy of the 70's and 80's. That mindset is hard to shake.

The fact is, brute muscle force isn't usually necessary in everyday life, or in most recreational sports activities. In bodybuilding, for example, strength is limited to the position where the muscle contraction takes place. The focus is on the large 'mover muscles' that are visible under the skin. The stronger the muscle being contracted gets, the more work it takes on. Eventually, it takes over the roles of the smaller, surrounding, supporting muscles. If the body constantly recruits the wrong muscle for a job, it results in a muscular imbalance. This leads to chronic tension, pain, and eventually, injury.

Pilates develops and conditions the deepest supporting muscles in the body to work in concert with the mover muscles, as intended. The resulting ability to stabilize the spine, shoulders, and pelvis creates a strong core, or "Powerhouse", as it is known in Pilates. Powerhouse is a very descriptive term. When control in this area of the body is developed, you have the ability to create power ­ over and over again. The ability to create power repeatedly is known as endurance that is needed in sports and everyday life.

Just as the development of supporting muscles is important, soWoman doing Pilates Stretch too is proper muscle length. Long, over-stretched muscles don't move smoothly and short, tight muscles can't move through a full range of motion. If a muscle is shorter or longer than its counterpart, unequal forces surround the joint, and that can create pain and tension. In Pilates, the focus on continuous, flowing movements teaches the body to release tension and regulate flexibility while building strength.

We all agree it's beneficial to find balance in our lives. It's just as important to balance our bodies. Pilates exercises will help you do that. The benefits of Pilates - core strength, endurance, flexibility, and stability - are the elements that most often come into play in everyday life and in recreational activities. This makes Pilates a fantastic foundation for, and complement to, cycling, gardening, golf, tennis, running, swimming ­ you name it, Pilates will help.

Women often turn to Pilates as a last resort when imbalances in the body, from years of 'no pain, no gain' exercise have left them injured. Pilates is a wonderful rehabilitation tool, but using these techniques to prevent injury is better than any cure.

So, reprogram your exercise brain. An exercise worthy of 'gym time' should not be measured in pain and strain, but in the way, it improves your ability to move through your everyday life with endurance, flexibility, strength, ease, and efficiency.  Try Pilates classes and enhance your performance. It's not only worthy of gym time, it may be your most valuable time at the gym.

Submitted by:

Jennifer Rogers, Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer at The Women's Club


Topics: exercises for women, Pilates, strength training, exercise classes, fitness tips, fitness for women, exercise programs for women

Women's Wellness Series: How to Attain a Healthy Back

Posted by Angie Quehl on Sep 20, 2010 7:17:00 AM

It is estimated that over 80% of all women suffer back pain at some point in their lives.  Back pain is the #2 cause of loss of work next to the common cold and occurs in all age groups.  The encouraging news is that most back problems respond well to conservative treatment or rest from the offending activity.  But the majority of back injuries can be prevented by understanding how to take care of your spine. I have designed an easy way to remember the keys to keeping your spine healthy….


To attain a healthy back, remember the following “M.O.V.E.” principle:


MECHANICS:  The worst enemy of the spine is a mechanical force called compression.  Since we can’t escape gravity, a way to minimize compression on the spine is to CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT and AVOID PROLONGED SITTING.  The spine is happiest when there is proper movement and flexibility between vertebral segments and when there are balanced muscular forces around it. 

OXYGEN:  A main mechanism of injury in back pain is damage to the vascular structures of the spinal discs and joints.  Smoking constricts these small blood vessels, cutting off nutrients to the tissues.  DON’T SMOKE!!  Another way to facilitate nutrition to the spine is to INCREASE CIRCULATION through movement and deep rhythmic breathing…that is what happens when we EXERCISE!

VARIATION:  If we VARY POSITIONS & ACTIVITIES of the spine, we can minimize “wear and tear” on the joints as we age; this prevents the advancement of osteoarthritis.  Constant compressive forces and repetitive movements create unnecessary damage to the spinal system.  A variety of exercises and frequent changes of positioning helps the spine to be more resilient, so get out of your chair and move often throughout your day!

EXERCISE & EDUCATION:   The most important first step is to attain proper POSTURE in all activities of daily living: sitting, standing, sleeping, lifting, exercising.  MOVEMENT actually helps to keep our joints lubricated and can change the pressure inside our vertebral discs.  STRENGTHENING MUSCLES of the legs and core (trunk) gives stability to the spine, which prevents injury during activities.  If we EDUCATE ourselves about spine care, LEARN SUCCESSFUL WAYS TO EXERCISE, and consult with a health care professional if back pain persists more than 7 days, then we can begin the journey of attaining a healthy back.

Submitted by: licensed Physical Therapist, Lyn Loy



Topics: exercises for women, physical therapy, back health, back pain, fitness tips, fitness for women, exercise programs for women, Lyn Loy

How Fitness Boot Camp for Women Can Help You Get Big Results

Posted by Angie Quehl on Aug 26, 2010 10:42:00 AM

In the past, few women would have considered joining a fitness boot camp as an answer to their weight loss and fitness problems. However, today the obvious benefits of these boot camps workouts have made many women reconsider the advantages of using a fitness boot camp to improve their fitness. Many women have discovered that regardless of their current fitness and exercise level, it is very hard to beat the health and fitness benefits of consistent and regular boot camp workouts.

An important reason motivating women to choose a fitness boot camp is that the fitness boot camps offer one of the best workouts for rapid weight loss. Even women that have had difficultly losing weight in the past or following through on an exercise program have found great results after joining a boot camp class. A well-designed boot camp class will offer a progression of each exercise for novice, intermediate and advanced boot camp participants. As you gain fitness and strength, the progressive difficulty of each exercise will continue to challenge you.

boot campers with hands in

One reason that boot camp workouts work so well for weight loss and toning muscle is that these fitness workouts are based on exercise science and physiology, using the proven techniques of resistance and cardiovascular training, as well as specific weight training exercises. Building muscle is essential to boosting the body's metabolism and effectively and efficiently losing weight by burning more calories throughout the day.

Another reason that fitness boot camps are such a great way to get into shape and lose weight is that they provide structure and consistency. Without having structure to your fitness program, and consistently participating, your chances of reaching your goal of having a great looking and fit body are greatly reduced. With a fitness boot camp, not only are the workouts intense enough to provide you with the results you want, but you will find that the personal trainers and instructors help provide the necessary motivation to keep you consistent.

Fitness boot camps also provide significant health benefits. One of the most important health concerns for women is heart disease; so cardiovascular health should be one of the main goals when choosing an exercise program. Boot camp workouts provide enough cardio exercise to help keep a heart healthy and reducing the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Another benefit of the boot camp classes is the decreasing risk of osteoporosis by improving bone density. The weight-bearing exercises often found in a boot camp workout are important in increasing a woman's bone density.

Another added benefit of fitness boot camp workouts for women is time management. In many cases its possible to get a full body workout in a brief 45 to 60 minute workout while burning over 600 calories. These fitness boot camps are typically far better than other workout programs which can often take much longer to burn the same number of calories. These high-intensity, fat-burning and muscle toning workouts can be a time savings to the busy professional woman.

Women from many fitness and health backgrounds can benefit from fitness boot camps specifically for women. Signing up for a fitness boot camp may be one of the best ways to get in shape and lose weight.

Have more questions or are ready to get started with a fitness boot camp for women right here in the Chantilly area? Click HERE to request more information.


Adpated from an article by John M. Martinez, M.D. and Greg Griffin


Topics: exercises for women, strength training, boot camp for women, fitness tips, fitness for women, exercise programs for women, bootcamp exercise classes, weight loss for women, Strength training for women

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