When you start a new exercise program, make sure you’re choosing your activities wisely and setting reasonable goals for yourself.
- Find physical activities that you enjoy and feel safe doing. Walking, biking, dancing, recreational sports, swimming, and hiking are good examples. Most likely, there is a way of moving that you will find enjoyable.
- Consider joining a gym or employing a personal trainer to set up your program, plan your progression, and monitor your goal accomplishment.
- At the beginning of the week, plan your exercise sessions. Write them in your day planner or PDA and treat them like you would any appointment. Don't let other priorities crowd out this important part of your schedule.
- Be sure you are wearing appropriate footwear for exercise. Running shoes are best for both walking and running. Try to minimize heat and moisture exposure and replace your shoes every six to eight months.
- During exercise, focus on the way you feel. Strive to be doing activities that you enjoy at an intensity that you feel good doing. Research has shown that individuals who exercise at their preferred level of exertion tend to keep exercising longer.
- Adding resistance training two to three times per week will increase your metabolism and help your body burn more calories. You could use weight machines, hand and ankle weights, elastic bands, a swedish ball, or calisthenics using your body weight as resistance.
- Spend five to 10 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch the major muscles you have used. Stretching helps improve flexibility and prevent injuries. Hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds and breathe deeply. Use this time to focus on how your body feels.
- Set realistic short-term action goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. For example, set a goal to exercise four times per week for two weeks. Reward yourself with an afternoon off at the bookstore, a massage, or a walk with someone special.
Keeping the Pace
Tips to help you stick with your exercise program:
- Get out your iPod, turn on your stereo, take an aerobics or spinning class. Music helps people exercise longer and harder, resulting in greater calorie burning.
- Pack your workout bag in the evening and leave it right by the door. Keep a set of workout clothes at work for the unexpected exercise opportunity.
- Don't feel like working out today? Contract with yourself to exercise for just five minutes and then see how you feel. If you still don't feel like exercising allow yourself to stop and take a day off. Often you'll feel like continuing. Getting started is the hardest part.
- Create a survival workout -- a 15- to 20-minute routine that you can do anywhere. This could be walking, climbing stairs, calisthenics, stretches, etc.
- Cross train to prevent overuse injuries and boredom with your routine. Spice up your workouts and keep your body guessing by varying your activities. Exercise with different partners -- mixing things up will keep you motivated.
- Your body is like a car. When you cruise at the same speed each day you get the best gas mileage -- and the same is true with expending caloric energy. Walk faster some days, add some short jogs, and alternate between longer and shorter sessions to avoid creating too much body efficiency and to keep those calories burning.
- Record your exercise. Your exercise logs can serve as an affirmation of your accomplishments, as well as a means to monitor your progress and revise your plan as needed.
Sneaking in Activity
Remember that movement is a choice. What you do with your body during the 16 hours of the day that you are not sleeping or intentionally exercising is important.
- Consider monitoring your steps with a pedometer. Try to accumulate 10,000 steps every day.
- Look for opportunities to fit in short bouts of exercise. Walk around the field during your daughter's soccer games and practices, park your car farther away, use the restroom on the floor above you, walk to your mailbox, walk the dog, etc.
- Redesign your sedentary environment -- move your trash can to the other side of your office, lose the remote control, put your recycling bin as far away from your kitchen as possible, avoid buying appliances and outdoor yard equipment that use electricity or gas when a manual option is reasonable. The calories you burn could make the difference of six to 10 pounds per year.
- Watch TV each day? Get up and move during each commercial during three hours of TV watching and you will have exercised for 50 minutes.
- Short on time, but still want results? A single set of eight to 12 repetitions to fatigue of your major muscle groups will provide significant strength gains. You will be stronger, have more energy, and feel like being more active.
- Here’s a recipe to burn 100 calories: Walk around the block once, climb a couple of flights of stairs, dance to your favorite song, walk around the block again.
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