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Most of us are not getting enough exercise. That’s a daunting fact on its own, but trying to figure out how to get started is a huge hurdle to begin with.

Former Women’s Day contributing editor Karen Asp brings her health and fitness expertise to Just Ask David to answer two biggest questions we all have before planning an exercise routine: How do I stay motivated to exercise? And, what types of exercise should I be doing to be able to see a significant improvement in my overall health?

What’s Your Motivation to Exercise?

A lot of us dread the thought of exercising, so it helps to have something motivate you to do it. The desire to lose weight or improve our overall health are good ones that many of us have.

For Karen, her family’s predisposition to Alzheimer’s motivates her to exercise. “We know that aerobic activity in particular can help thwart the risk of dementia as you age. So that’s a big one for me,” she says. Indeed, studies have shown that aerobic exercise can improve memory and reduce the impact of cognitive decline as you age.

Tied to our overall health and longevity is our fitness age. Your fitness age is different from your actual, chronological age. For instance, you may technically be 35 years old. But a sedentary lifestyle and a diet of fast food can make your fitness age comparable to that of the average 50-year-old!

“Aging is a good thing. It’s better than the alternative, as my grandmother always used to say,” Karen says. “But aging is still aging, and I definitely want to age through life younger than I am and that means I need to lower my fitness age.”

How to Improve Your Fitness Age

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It’s true — we can’t change our actual age, no matter how much we want to. But the good news is, you can shave years off your fitness age with a little perseverance. Again, aerobics is best for improving your cardiovascular health.

Many of us have heard that 15,000 steps per day is recommended for health when researching weight loss methods. “It is a good number to shoot for,” Karen says. “There are other studies that have shown roughly 6,000-7,000 steps per day — keep in mind that the average American takes about 4,000 steps a day — would be for optimal health [and] keeping your heart in shape.”

For weight loss, then that number gets closer to the 15,000 figure. “Now we’re talking about over 10,00 steps,” Karen says. “And the statistics show perhaps the better goal for that would be 12,000 steps.”

Intensity of Exercise and Age

Intensity of exercise also matters with fitness age. While it’s great that you make a commitment to exercise, you need to pay attention to intensity and always change it.

While it’s great to get moving, it’s important to note the way you move. Short bursts of intense exercise is incredibly beneficial to lowering your fitness age. Karen recommends at least one day of high-intensity aerobic exercise, like interval training.

Follow Karen Asp on Social Media!

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Stay in touch with Karen and get her expert advice on health and fitness by visiting Karen’s website. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter @KarenAspWriter!

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