Weekend Fitness

Posted: September 22, 1990

A good way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to combine proper nutrition with regular aerobic exercise three to five times each week. A majority of Americans do one or the other, but not both.

Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses the major muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, deltoids) and is sustained continually for at least 20 minutes.

To enhance the cardiorespiratory system, the activity should raise your heart rate to a "training level" of 60 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Here's an exercise movement you can incorporate into your aerobic workout. It can be done slowly - as a warm-up exercise - or vigorously to elevate the heart rate or to maintain heart-rate elevation:

* Stand with both feet together.

* Extend your right foot to the right, touching the floor, while your right arm follows the motion of your right leg.

* Next, touch your right foot to the floor next to your left foot while your right arm bends in near your right side.

* Repeat the movements about 15 times, working the right leg.

* Reverse movements for the left leg about 15 times.

Option: You can work in sets of eight, four, two or even singles. To do this, transfer your weight and switch feet after each touch to the side.

The movements condition the major muscle groups of the body.

The supporting leg is bent, causing quadricep (front of the thigh) muscles to work. The torso muscles contract to hold the upper body in place.

If you add a hop to the movement, the intensity is increased in order to lift your weight off the floor; this causes the heart rate to elevate, because the muscles have to expend more energy.

If you prefer a low-impact approach, you can bend and straighten the supporting leg, which will again cause the muscles to work harder and the heart rate to elevate.

Keep in mind that an overall fit appearance is best achieved by combining good nutrition with carefully planned exercise.