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How to Keep Fit and Toned

By Mark Swedberg

An ongoing exercise program and sensible nutrition can help you keep fit and toned for life. If you watch your weight and eat a balanced diet, you have a lower risk of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. And regular physical activity improves your mood and lowers your risk of developing depression in the future.

Determine your body mass index, or BMI, and body fat percentage, by entering your height and weight into an online calculator. A healthy BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9. Even if your BMI is in the healthy range, you have to measure your waist circumference to assess whether your body fat is concentrated in an unhealthy way. Men should have a waist measurement of 40 inches or fewer, and women 35 inches or fewer.

Lose excess weight with a lifestyle change that you can sustain instead of going for a crash diet that shows fast results and has you gain all the lost weight back in a short amount of time. Growing lighter by 1 to 2 pounds per week is the healthiest rate. The best way to achieve this is to combine diet and exercise to create a negative energy balance, which means you burn more calories than you take in with food.

Achieve overall fitness by incorporating 30 minutes of moderate activity on every day of the week. Find the time by walking short distances, going on a walk for half of your lunch break, or walking before or after work. During moderate activity, you can still hold a conversation.

Train your cardiovascular system with vigorous exercise five days a week. Running on a treadmill or on a track, cycling or using an elliptical trainer for 20 to 30 minutes helps improve your aerobic stamina. During vigorous exercise, you find yourself out of breath and have a hard time talking. Get more from your cardiovascular exercise by using the interval training settings on workout machines.

Grow lean muscle by including strength training in your schedule three times a week. Muscles burn more calories all day long, even when you are at rest. Choose weights that you can lift for 10 to 12 repetitions per set to gain endurance. Counter the effects of age on your body by changing up your workout every six to eight weeks. The body starts losing 1 percent of muscle mass per year once you turn 30 if you live a sedentary lifestyle.

Tips

Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.

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