By Mackie Shilstone

When it comes to exercising and staying in shape, there are certain routines and rules that apply equally to both genders. However, there are some routines and rules that would apply more to women than they would to men. One of them has to do with the level of intensity of the exercises being performed.

Most of us, when we go through our exercise routines, seem to feel that we have to work out at a high level of intensity in order for the exercise to be beneficial. Unfortunately, many women may have trouble maintaining a high-intensity level. Well, there's good news from the American Medical Association and the Women's Health Initiative. You may be able to enjoy the benefits of working out without working so hard at it.

A study, whose results were published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that exercise of moderate intensity can be just as beneficial as vigorous exercise for reducing weight in women who are normally sedentary. Another study undertaken by the Women's Health Initiative suggests that intense exercise has no advantage over moderate exercise when it comes to preventing breast cancer.

According to the results of a recent university-conducted weight-loss study, which examined 200 overweight, normally sedentary women, those who exercised at a "moderate" level lost just about as much weight as those who exercised at a "vigorous," more intense level. The average age of the women studied was 37 and their average body mass index (BMI) was 32.7. During the study, they were all given the same amount of kilo-calories and dietary fat to eat each day.

One of the best things you can do to exercise and lose weight is also one of the simplest: walking. Walking four or five days a week at a moderate-to-brisk pace gets your blood pumping, your muscles conditioned and your respiratory system flowing evenly. Once you begin a regular walking regimen you should adhere to it.

Bicycling on level ground and simple stretching exercises you can do at home or in a gym are also beneficial weight-loss techniques that aren't too strenuous. Eating the right foods -- and the right amount of the right foods -- is critical, also, to maintaining proper health and body mass.

Getting yourself down to the weight you should be and keeping yourself there is an ongoing challenge. Establish a proper exercise and dietary program for yourself, working with a certified personal trainer and/or a licensed nutritionist when necessary. And don't forget your doctor'