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Girl Power

Exercises to optimize women’s health and fitness

 

By Alison Cardoza
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson

 

The female body is beautiful, unique and requires different exercise, nutrition and health considerations. Nutritional needs for women are different from men to ensure proper hormonal health. Ladies, it is important to fuel your body with foods that are loaded in nutrients. Grab cancer-fighting agents, such as leafy greens and blueberries, to incorporate into your daily meals. Milestone Cafe offers a wonderful salad packed with protein, including eggs and walnuts, to ensure protein replenishment after a workout.

Exercise frequency and intensity should also be adapted for hormonal health. Oestrogen acts like an anti-inflammatory, so you might not feel injuries right away. If you do feel aches and pains from exercise, don’t ignore them. Always listen to your body.

Left to right: Alison Cardoza, Kelsey Smith, Jilian Higgins, Heather Albro.

Follow these steps to ensure a healthy workout routine:

1. Always warm up your body. Elevate your heart rate for at least five minutes by walking on a treadmill.

2. Weight training exercises are incredibly important for bone health. Resistance training will help strengthen the ligaments, tendons and muscles around the bone, which will help protect your body from injury. Exercises I suggest for this are:

Chest Press: This targets the triceps, deltoids and pecs and can be done every other day on a machine at the gym or at home using dumbbells. Start with doing 10 on each side then repeat, keeping proper form. Use weight that is appropriate for your body. This exercise will help with daily activities that require arm strength.

Lateral Lunges: These target glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps and will help protect the knees. Start with feet together and step one leg out to the side with a bent knee. Come back together and repeat on the other side, do 10 on each leg then repeat. Women tend to have wider hips than men and most have a wider “Q-Angle,” which puts women at an increased risk for ACL and other knee injuries. Lateral lunges and other lateral movements help strengthen and stabilize the hips, thus decreasing the risk of injury to the knees.

TRX Low Row: Start with hands facing each other, straighten arms and lean back slightly. Pull the body upward at an angle, bending the elbows. Pinch the shoulder blades together as if you were squeezing a pencil. Start with 15 on each side then repeat. This is a calisthenic exercise that can be done daily. Strengthening the muscles of the upper back helps improve posture, which leads to a decreased risk of injury.

3. Always stretch after a workout. Hold your static stretches for 30 seconds.

Alison Cardoza.

Exercise is a vital part of preventing osteoporosis as this disease is particularly prominent in women. These resistance training activities can help prevent osteoporosis for a long time, if not permanently. Mothers who exercise set a great example for their children. The self-discipline can influence children in many ways, and the energy derived from exercise can allow mothers to raise healthier and more successful children. Installing healthy eating habits also helps children make healthier choices as they age.

Nothing relieves stress like exercise! If things are stressful at work or home, it’s time to get up and go for a walk in the park or join in the fun at Baptist East Milestone Wellness Center. We offer hundreds of machines and classes that are sure to help relieve tension and help you reach your fitness goals!

Alison Cardoza, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitour Group Exercise Instructor at Baptist East Milestone Wellness Center. B.S. in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine with a minor in Health Promotions.