20 Minute Age
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Studies show the
importance of a regular fitness routine. Think you're too busy to squeeze in a
little sweat time? You can make great strides to not only feel and look
younger, but to also drop weight more effectively by fitting in as little as 20
minutes of exercise three times a week.
Surveys reveal that most people are aware
that exercise and sensible eating are good for them, but still cant stick to a
workout routine and nutritional plan for more than a month or two. The dropout
rate at four to six weeks is over 90 percent. Without some type of
intervention, the average man or woman over age 30 packs on about 5 pounds of
fat per year.
Its estimated that 50 or even 60 percent of
our society is considered medically overweight. Insulin insensitivity,
diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, kidney failure, and stroke all
plague the obese. There is also a mounting body of evidence that connects
excessive body fat with certain types of cancer, most likely the result of an
overworked immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control reports
each year there are more than 300,000 preventable, obesity related deaths in
this country alone.
But long, arduous workouts that place
unrealistic demands on your time and energy may not be the answer. This is
especially true when strenuous exercise is combined with extreme diets that
restrict food choices. You need to develop a realistic approach to fitness and
You stand a much better chance at
succeeding with an exercise program that calls for a relatively small
investment in time (just 20 or 30 minutes, 3 days per week), doesnt sap
your energy reserves, and is backed up by a sensible, easy-to-follow meal
Here's one of my favorite quick, effective
Perform 2 sets of each of the following
exercises. Rest from 1 to 2 minutes between each set. Shorter rest between sets
will promote more fat burning, while longer rest will tend to create more
strength and muscle. Repeat the entire workout twice or 3 times each week, but
allow at least 48 hours between workouts. Use the Intensity Booster provided
with each exercise to enable yourself to hit muscle fatigue at the recommended
Squat With Dumbbells
Start out by
standing with your feet shoulder-width apart holding dumbbells at your sides.
Hold the head straight while you maintain the natural arch in your back, knees
soft. Inhale as you bend at the knees and hips to a sitting position or as low
as you can comfortably go without pain or discomfort. Allow the arms to swing
forward for balance.
Your buttocks never drop below the level of
your knees, and your knees do not extend beyond the toes. Exhale, slowly rising
to a standing position with knees and hips straight, allowing the arms to drop
back to your sides. Ideally, select a resistance level (body weight or
dumbbells) that enables you to hit muscle fatigue in the 12- to 20-repetition
Intensity Booster: Hold dumbbells (as
shown), but if you don't have access to free weights, simply perform this
exercise at a slower pace to increase intensity and overall results. Squat down
to a slow count of 8, and back up to a slow count of 4.
Classic Push-Up or Modified Push-Up
Lie face down on the floor or
mat, hands on the floor, palms down, slightly wider than shoulder width apart,
and toes curled under on the floor. Your back and legs are straight. Exhale as
you slowly straighten your arms and push your body away from the floor. Inhale,
lowering yourself back down to the point where your chest comes within a few
inches of the floor. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 15 to 20
Intensity Booster: Elevate the feet on a
step or bench (while your hands remain on the floor) to increase intensity. To
reduce overall intensity, perform the Modified Push-Up instead of the classic
Everything remains the same
as in the regular push-up, except the knees are bent and remain on the floor
throughout the movement instead of the feet. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the
range of 15 to 20 repetitions).
Lie supine on a mat or padded carpet, legs straight, both hands under your
buttocks to help maintain the proper pelvic tilt (engages abs). With your head
held off the floor a few inches, exhale and slowly bring your knees to your
chest. If necessary, support your head and neck with a folded towel. Inhale as
you straighten your legs (make sure you keep the lower back pressed firmly into
the floor), then return to the starting position. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in
the range of 20 to 30 reps).
Intensity Booster: Kicking the legs
straight out and near the floor will increase intensity (as shown), while
kicking higher up, and away from the floor will reduce it.
So what happens if you dont exercise?
Sedentary and out of shape, your body will biologically age about twice as fast
as your active identical twin.
The American Medical Association lists
inactivity as a primary factor for biological aging and the development of many
age-related disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2
diabetes. In the U.S. alone, osteoporosis, or low bone density, threatens half
the population aged 50 and older. According to figures released by the National
Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 44 million Americans (30 million of
which are women) are currently affected by this debilitating disease.
Aging is also associated with a loss of
lean muscle mass. Less muscle translates into ever decreasing strength, balance
and coordination as you age. Allowing the body to work against a progressively
challenging level of resistance, on a regular basis, can interrupt the process
of wasting away bone and muscle tissue, the very definition of aging.
Medical science, as well as most
physicians, has largely overlooked the remarkable effect resistance training,
or weight lifting, can have on health and longevity. Training with weights has
traditionally been seen almost exclusively as a way to achieve muscular
strength, endurance and athletic prowess. Doctors have all but ignored the
effect resistance training has on functionality, especially as we age.
The ability to take part in simple,
everyday activities is what maintains independence, vitality, and a lust for
life. A few properly performed resistance movements, done two or three days per
week, will stave off the ravages of old age as you head towards your Golden
Years. Youll never be forced to give up lifes daily activities.
Lift heavy packages, run for the bus, climb stairs, play tennis, or do anything
else your healthy heart desires.
The process of deterioration can start in
our mid-20s and continues throughout life. With the passage of every sedentary
year, your body will lose more and more of its lean muscle mass (a combination
of muscle and bone). And thats only half the story. As you drop off
muscle your metabolic requirements are reduced, and your body begins to store
this extra, unused fat.
Suddenly 10 years pass, youre 50
pounds overweight and dont have the energy to get out of bed. But
its not too late to halt the process! A solid strength routine can be
started at any age. A set of dumbbells, resistance bands, or even body weight
can provide all the resistance you need to get big results.
If youve never trained with weights,
start slowly. Get some comprehensive instruction from a reliable source, such
as a professional trainer. Educate yourself on the different approaches to
weight training and youll automatically gravitate to one thats
right for you. Get ready to enjoy the transformation.