And there is a real difference between the type of exercise you do for both of these outcomes.

If you want to exercise for ‘fitness’, then you need to increase your oxygen uptake. Basically, that’s how much oxygen you can get into your lungs and muscles. The goal for fitness improvements is to be able to work harder for longer, i.e. to increase your performance you need to improve your muscles’ ability to process oxygen. That’s what your training helps you improve. You are trying to build enough work-load in your training sessions to see improvements in time, speed, power and endurance. 

Resting heart rate is a measure of ‘fitness’. That’s what improving your fitness is. When your resting heart rate is lower, then when you are feeling stressed or over-whelmed in your day to day life, having a lower resting heart rate means that your heart isn’t rising as high as it might if you were unfit. When you are ‘fitter’, you are also building your resilience to deal with stress.

But when it comes to your ‘fitness for health’ then that’s different.

If you want to feel healthier, then you can spend more time doing activity which does not have the performance expectations around it. Walking more will improve your health, so will swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing, and yes, even housework!

Other aspects of staying healthy as we age include improved posture and breathing, stretching and flexibility and some resistance training for muscle and bone strength.

The starting point for women in perimenopause and into menopause, is to begin with improving cardiac health. This is why the emphasis is to refocus on aerobic exercise. The research shows that healthy ageing requires a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.

When we move our major muscle groups and we breath harder (but not out of breath), then we are exercising aerobically. This means lots of oxygen is getting into our lungs and is being taken to the muscle cells where it gets converted into energy inside an area of the cell called the mitochondria. We have thousands of mitochondrial cells in our body. As we age, the work of the mitochondrial cells to store oxygen and turn food into energy, changes. So, improving the size and number of mitochondria is important for staying healthy as we age.

How do we do this? Through moderate aerobic exercise as compared to more vigorous or an-aerobic exercise. If we do aerobic exercise regularly, then we increase the number and size of these mitochondria inside our muscle and heart cells. What this means for our health, is that we function better.

So now, rather than being competitive, I enjoy almost daily aerobic movement to keep me feeling good. I love how, when I do feel stressed, this type of exercise builds my mental resilience. It doesn’t leave me feeling exhausted like high-intensity exercise used to, especially when I wasn’t sleeping so well.

I hope that you can build your aerobic health and experience this feeling too.

#aginggracefully #wellness #menopausesymptoms #perimenopause #movement

Have you ever thought about what the term ‘fitness’ means to you?

I had never thought that I might have to change my exercise as I got older. But when my body started to complain, I began to think that change was in order. So I started asking questions. I began to see that there was confusion about exercising for ‘fitness’ and exercising for ‘health’.