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February 1, 2011 > Exercise for Your Health!

Exercise for Your Health!

Free Evening Class Focuses on Fun, Easy Ways to Broaden Your Routine

As far as exercising goes, walking is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness. But improving strength and flexibility are important, too. The question is: how do you fit in the right exercises and make it fun so that you'll remain consistent?

Next Monday, Feb. 7, the Washington Women's Center will host a free class to help women plan on how to incorporate different forms of exercise into their week.

"Oftentimes I hear ladies say they walk but can't seem to find anything different to do besides walking," says Kathy Hesser, R.N., Washington Women's Center Clinical Coordinator. "They'll say, 'I'll walk and then my hip or knee hurts.' This class is going to give them specific activities they can add to their walking to broaden their routine and improve overall fitness."

Sherry Harrington, a Washington Hospital staff Certified Pulmonary Therapist who will be co-instructing the class, stresses the importance of simple activities women can do without a gym membership.

"You can do strengthening at home with items around the house," Harrington points out. "Muscle mass burns more calories than fat. And building muscle mass doesn't mean we are trying to get that male body-building look, but instead it helps us ladies firm our bodies, which will give us more self confidence about our physical appearance and how we fit into our clothes."

A few topics Hesser and Harrington plan to cover include:
* How warming up and cooling down can add time to your workout and how it benefits your joints.
* Specific stretches you can do to improve flexibility in your knees, hips and back.
* Cardiovascular and strengthening exercise and why they're beneficial for women.
* Free activities women can do that are simple enough to incorporate into a daily routine, without having to go to a gym.
* How a pedometer can be a helpful tool to monitor how much you are really walking and help you take small steps out of your comfort zone.

Hesser says one of the most important elements of an exercise program is that it has to be enjoyable.

"Let's face it; you're not going to want to do exercise if it isn't fun," she says. "This is why we're going to look at some fun things you can do with other people or by yourself and how can you make working out pleasant."

Hesser points out that this month is American Heart Month, making it good time to look at heart disease prevention.

"To bring attention to heart health this month, we're offering a low-fat cooking demonstration on Wednesday, Feb. 16 in addition to the exercise class on Feb. 7," she says. "When it comes to diet and exercise, the two of those things together can make a real difference in your heart health and pulmonary health. But if you have one without the other, you're never going to maintain weight loss or make a difference in your blood pressure and cholesterol. If you make a habit of eating better and exercising regularly, then all your numbers will go down."

Overall, broadening your exercise routine can help you reap important benefits, regardless of age or fitness level, Hesser says.

"For younger women, exercise is often a stress reliever for career, children and all the extracurricular activity," she says. "In the middle years, you may not have as many activities, but your metabolism goes down and your weight goes up if you don't add in a little more activity to adjust for menopause. There are a lot of health issues around menopause that exercise can be very helpful with. Plus, throughout a woman's life, exercise is extremely important in disease prevention for things like arthritis, heart disease and diabetes."

Washington Hospital has several exercise programs-many specifically geared toward women-which Hesser will talk about during the lecture. But, however you choose to improve your fitness, she emphasizes the importance of patience.

"We tell people to start out slow and listen to their bodies; change isn't going to happen overnight," she notes. "Make it so it becomes a habit. Do it in a way that fits your personal routines and works for you and makes you feel better. And there are ways to do it."

Learn more

To learn more about fun, low-cost ways to incorporate different types of exercise into your daily routine, join Hesser and Harrington for "Exercise for Your Health" next Monday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Women's Center Conference Room 2500 Mowry Ave., Suite 150, in Fremont.

For more information about classes or programs at the Washington Women's Center, call (510) 608-1356 or visit

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