Looking good

You look in every mirror you pass to make sure you haven’t gained any weight. You’re sure that if you lose 10 pounds, all your problem is will go away. You know that the actors and actresses on television and the models in magazines have what seem like “ideal bodies.”

But no one has a “perfect body.” Everyone, however. can look good – and feel good.

Instead of striving for the perfect body, make your goal that of being physically fit. Your image of your body will improve along with your fitness.

Forget the “thin is fit” myth. Thin is not necessarily fit nor ideal. Weight loss is not the most important factor in improving body image.

Physical fitness has more to do with how well you can perform certain physical activities than with how much you weigh. A physically fit person has good endurance, strength, and heart and lung capacity.

The body of a fit person turns fat tissue into muscle tissue. Muscles weigh more than fat because they are denser. Muscles need more calories than fat. As you start getting more muscle tissue, you’ll find you can eat more without gaining weight.

How Do You Get Fit?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends some physical activities every day, and vigorous activities for 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a week. While most teens claim they do an hour a day of physical activity, a 1994 study found that only about 50 percent of the boys and 25 percent of the girls exercise vigorously. One study showed that as teens get older, they exercise less.

You may walk to school every day, but unless you’re doing four to five miles per hour for a half hour, you can’t count it as the kind of vigorous exercise you get with activities such as brisk walking, jogging, basketball, racquet sports, dance, swimming laps, skating, bicycling, strength (resistance) training, and waist training with the best waist cincher. All these activities get you moving quickly and breathing hard for sustained periods of time.

One way to tell if you’re exercising hard enough is to check your target heart rate. To get your target heart rate, subtract your age from 220, and multiply that number by .65 and .85 (example: 220 – 16 = 204 x .65 = 133; 204 x .85 = 173. For a maximum workout that bums fat, your pulse rate should be between those numbers.

Do something you like. Let’s face it, doing something you hate will only encourage you to avoid exercise. Catch up on the latest news while you and a friend jog together. If you’re alone, doing a variety of activities will keep you from getting bored and will exercise different muscles.

Carrie Sowiak, athletic director of The Oxford Club in Denver, Colorado, recommends weight training to increase your percentage of muscle. Muscle tissue demands energy and increases your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories).

Carrie has found that once teens start developing muscle and upper body strength, they don’t worry about losing weight. The muscle definition makes them look better, and they have a new body image.

Be sure you get instruction in weight training. If you don’t use the correct techniques, you can tear or strain your muscles. Carrie recommends a trainer who has a degree in a health - related field and is also certified by an accredited organization such as the American College of Sports Medicine.

Some of your exercises should be aerobic – activities that use a lot of oxygen such as jogging, bicycling, dancing, and swimming. If you haven’t done the activity before, start slowly and build up to longer times and greater distance over a period of weeks. Always start your session with some stretches to give your muscles a chance to warm up, and end with a few minutes of slower exercises and stretches to cool down.

Do, Not Overdo

Avoid the “weekend athlete syndrome,” saving up your daily exercise and spending it all on the weekends. If you do, you’re likely to set yourself up for a sports injury. You’ll want to set up a program that will strengthen you for your chosen weekend activity.

On the other hand, don’t over – do exercise. Some teens decide that more is better and start exercising every spare minute. Soon they’re obsessed with the idea of going longer distances and losing more weight.

Some of the signs that you are overdoing things are weighing yourself every day, or seeing yourself as fat no matter how much you weigh. You need some fat to provide insulation and store energy.

Get Moving

Get off to a good start this school year – get moving.

Exercise is great. A regular exercise program can help you tone muscles and get in shape. You’ll feel better – and look good, too.