Cardio-vascular exercises are important in strengthening the heart and in reducing women's risk factors to diseases. This is the type of exercise that benefits all organs of the body, as it increases the pumping of blood through all of the organs. If your goal is to improve health and maintain your weight, you can opt for moderate-intensity cardio exercises such as hiking, dancing, cycling and engaging in sports. Around half an hour daily of these types of exercise for six days a week would give you adequate amounts of physical activity to meet your goal.
On the other hand, if you are aiming to burn fat and lose a significant amount of weight, you might want to try doing high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. This type of exercise burns the most calories in the least amount of time. The principle behind this type of exercise is to discourage the body from achieving a steady state. When you are performing exercises at a steady pace, the body tries to adjust to the energy demands of the body by conserving calories. Of course, this is counter-productive for you if your goal is to burn as much calories as you possibly can. To help you elude getting into a steady state, HIIT programs instruct you to frequently vary the pace of your workouts. For example, you can alternately perform medium-intensity cardio, and high-intensity cardio every two or three minutes until you complete your half-hour exercise session. If you're a runner, you can warm up with a five-minute jog, followed by 1 minute of full-speed running, around 2 minutes of brisk walking, another minute of high intensity running, and so on. HIIT is ideally performed around 3 to 4 times a week. One added benefit of HIIT is that your body would continue to have elevated metabolism for the next 4 to 8 hours, so that you continue to burn calories even after you are done exercising.
The other component of a good exercise plan for women is strength training. Strength training used to be associated exclusively with body builders and athletes. In more recent physical fitness researches, however, strength training has been significantly correlated to improved blood pressure management and reduced risks for diabetes. It has also been linked to back pain relief.
Strength training is an effective means for improving women's physical appearance. Increased muscle mass allows you to burn more calories by increasing your basal metabolic rate. It tones and sculpts your body, and helps you get rid of unwanted flab.
A good strength-training program should incorporate the principles of overload and progression, that is, you subject your muscles to greater resistance once you can comfortably perform more than eight repetitions on your current weight. Don't worry about getting too muscular. Women genetically do not have the hormones for developing the bulky muscles seen in male body builders.