Fitness is one of the most important parts of our lives. Nowadays there is not a shortage of voices to tell you to get fitter and healthier, and for good reason too. Having a high fitness level not only means that you lose weight and look better, but it also has a number of health benefits that will help you live a better life. What are some reasons that you should start up or pick up your workout and fitness program?
Top 10 reasons why you should try and improve your fitness level are:
1. Energy! When you are healthy and fit, you will feel more energetic. So even after a long day at work, you will have more energy to spend quality time with family and friends, or to work that great idea you have, instead of simply crashing..
2. Look Good Exercising and a healthy fitness level makes you look good and young. With a healthy fitness level, you help your body be more toned and less likely to be under or overweight. A well proportioned body and toned muscles will make you beautiful both inside and out.
3. Efficiency When you are healthy with a high fitness level, both your mind and your body function better. Feeling better helps get things done. You can achieve and do more in less time and are more efficient.
4. Protect Your Health By maintaining a healthy fitness level, you ward off a large number of lifestyle related ailments like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, migraines, back and muscle problems and pains, arthritis and other heart and immune system related problems. Burning fat, being active, exercising your muscles, and cardio-vascular system helps keep certain diseases and conditions at bay.
5. Stamina! Exercising, Eating right, and keeping your fitness level high leads to increased stamina. This means that you actually have more energy to do what you love in life. You’ll be more likely to have energy for dancing, playing with your kids, participating in your favorite sport or working on your own business.
6. Strength! Make your body stronger. Working out and being fit lessens the risk of injury and muscle and bone related ailments. Since you will need to exercise regularly to maintain a healthy fitness level, your bone density and muscle density and strength will increase over a period of time, making you less susceptible to injuries.
7. Age Gracefully When you maintain a healthy fitness level, you will age better. Stronger bones and muscles and a healthy constitution will ensure that age related ailments like arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, heart diseases and low stamina and energy have the least effect on your body.
8. Feel Happy! When you have a healthy fitness level, you will feel happy. This is because exercising releases feel good hormones or endorphins, which will give you a high and make you feel better and happier throughout the day. Being fit has been known to counteract depression and anxiety as well.
9. Be Heart Healthy Protect your heart and live longer. Your risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some cancers is alleviated if you maintain a healthy fitness level.
10. Just Do It! Why not? Being Healthy, Fit, and Happy is a reward in itself. When you feel good, look good, decrease your chances of injury and disease you are a step ahead. Having your health is almost the most important thing you can have. Hopefully you are already working on being healthy and fit, and if you are not, then start on the way to health and fitness today!
Strength Training Tips
- Include some type of strength training in your weekly exercise regimen no matter what your fitness goals are. Resistance training provides many health benefits. Read articles that discuss the benefits further.
- Don’t take the all or nothing approach. It’s better to do a little training than none at all. So, even if you can only fit one strength training routine in a week, you’ll still benefit from it.
- If you’re a woman, don’t be afraid of strength training. You won’t bulk up (unless you are really trying to). And, resistance training is easy to start. With professional guidance and direction, you can quickly learn how to train properly.
- Be sure you are training with the proper resistance size. Ideally, you should choose a size that fatigues you after 10-12 reps.
- Focus on correct form. If you are unable to use proper, safe form when performing an exercise then you probably are using weights that are too heavy. Choose a size that allows you to train with correct form.
- Concentrate on the muscle(s) you are working during a specific exercise and don’t allow your other muscle groups to assist with the exercise.
- How long you rest between sets is important. For building muscles and getting bulkier the rest time should be longer. For more muscle endurance and leaner, sculpted muscles the rest time should be shorter.
- The frequency of your strength training depends on whether your goals are to get bigger and stronger (less often) or whether you want to get leaner and more defined muscles (more often).
- Try the periodization technique which progress you every week over a 4-week timeframe. Try a plan of starting with lighter weights and more reps, and each week increasing the weight size appropriately and decreasing the number of reps.
- Bend your elbows. This will cause your arms to swing faster which in return will help your legs to move faster.
- Keep your stride short. Don’t take long strides that feel awkward.
- Think heal-to-toe. Push-off with your heal. Toes should leave the ground last.
- Keep your abs pulled in and tight.
- Include interval training walks that include periods of very brisk walking followed by slower, recovery times.
Exercise and Workout Tips
- Replace your sneakers often. At least after every 250 – 500 miles of walking/running.
- Stair climbing is a low-impact alternative to running.
- Choose exercises that you enjoy doing. You’ll be more inclined to stick with a fitness regimen when it includes things you like to do.
- Change your fitness routine every 4-6 weeks to prevent a workout plateau.
- Strive to include total body workouts. These include: cardiovascular exercises, strength training (both upper and lower body), core training and stretching/flexibility.
- Measure your exercise intensity. There are several methods: heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, talk test.
- Whenever possible, take the stairs instead of an elevator.
Stretching and flexiblity are very important aspects of good physical fitness, so don’t overlook them. Ideally, you should stretch before each workout (both cardio and resistance exercises) and after each workout. If you can’t do both, then make the after stretching a priority.
- When stretching before a workout, it’s best to stretch after you’ve gotten warmed-up for about 5 minutes (your muscles will be looser).
When working out on cardio equipment (e.g. elliptical trainers), don’t lean heavily on the handrails. This will reduce the amount of calories you burn.
Weight Loss & Diet Tips
- Exercise is not enough. You must also include healthy eating habits.
- Make a list of all the benefits regular exercise provides you. Everything from feeling healthier, sleeping better, preventing depression, feeling stronger, etc. Post this list somewhere that you will easily see it everyday so that it can serve as a reminder why you should workout.
- Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast consume fewer total calories during the day then those that don’t.
- Don’t waste your calories on drinks. Drink low-calorie or no calorie drinks instead (preferably water).
- Try to take at least 20 minutes to complete a meal. This is how long it takes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full.
- Use a lot of spices and seasonings when cooking low-fat/low-calorie meals. They can make your meal taste so much better and therefore make you feel more satisfied.
- Decrease your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can decrease the burning of stored fat.
- Consume at least 64 ounces of water per day, plus an additional 16 ounces for every hour of moderate-intensity exercise.
- Each day fill a container(s) with your daily water supply so you’ll always know how much you’ve drank and ensure you drink the required daily amount.
- If you are new to running be sure that you have been walking for 30 minutes at least 3 days a week about 3 months before you try to transition to running.
- Do not bounce or overstride. Don’t let your foot get ahead of your knee. Run from the hips down with the upper body straight up and used only for balance.
- Breath in through your nose and out through pursed lips.
- Choose shoes appropriate for running and that fit well — they don’t cause any discomfort or blisters.
- When running in colder weather be sure to wear a hat. A large amount of heat can be lost through your head.
- Replace your running shoes at least every 400-500 miles.
- Create a plan ahead of time. Before the holidays sneak up on you, create a plan for incorporating fitness and good nutrition into your daily routine. Evaluate your holiday and then determine how much time you will realistically have available to devote to working out and/or eating healthy meals.
- Schedule your workouts. Mark them on the calendar and set-aside time to complete them. Consider them as important as any other appointment or event you have marked on your calendar.
- When at a party, start by eating some of the healthy offerings. For example, vegetable sticks (without dip), fruit pieces, plain chicken pieces, etc. Then move on to some of the less healthy (but yummy) offerings. You will be less likely to overindulge on these foods if you have already filled-up on some of the healthier items. Yet, you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied.
- Avoid wasting calories on alcoholic beverages. The average alcoholic drink contains 150-200 calories per glass. Indulge in just 2-3 drinks and you’ve drunk the equivalent calories of an entire meal. If you partake in these beverages, choose wisely. For example, instead of having a full glass of wine, try mixing half a glass of wine with sparkling water or with a diet cola. This will help cut your calories in half.
- When shopping, don’t search for the closest parking space. Park far away and take advantage of the walk you get.
- Don’t put your fitness goals on hold until the New Year. If you can’t exercise as often during this time period as you normally do, adjust appropriately. Don’t use the excuse that since you don’t have time for your full workout you just won’t workout at all. Instead accept your limited availability and simply reduce the frequency and/or duration of your exercise. It’s much better to cut your fitness time in half than to completely eliminate it.
- On the day of a party, be sure to eat regularly all day long. If the party is in the evening, eat breakfast, lunch and a snack before hand (just as you would on any other day). Once you are at the party, go ahead and indulge in some of the fun, delicious foods. Since you have eaten meals earlier in the day, you probably will find that you aren’t tempted to go overboard and eat everything in sight. However, if you starve all day long attempting to save up all your calories for the party, you will be so famished by the time it begins that it will be difficult not to overeat.
- On days that you really lack motivation or simply do not have time for your complete exercise routine, commit to do just 10 minutes of exercise. You’ll probably end up doing more than that once you get started. Even if you only end up completing 10 minutes, that is still a lot better than zero minutes.
- When presented with a large variety of food options, it’s tempting to want to eat everything. Rather than eating one large slice of chocolate cake or a huge plate of meatballs, select a sampling of bite size pieces of several of the desert or appetizer offerings. This way you get the enjoyment of trying many different foods without overeating.
- Exercise at home. You’ll be more inclined to follow-through on your exercise commitment if you don’t have to drive somewhere to do your workout. Plus, you won’t waste any time on driving, parking, the locker room or waiting to use equipment. Working out at home requires very little equipment (even can be equipment-free) and is quite inexpensive.
- When running errands or shopping, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to have on-hand. Then after you work-up a big appetite, you won’t be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or the fast food restaurant on the way home.
Too Much, Too Soon
Many new exercisers try to lose weight or tone up too quickly, by exercising too frequently or trying exercise programs that are too difficult for their fitness level.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
Despite what many advertisers would like you to believe, it’s unrealistic to think you can lose 30 pounds in 30 days or that you can have Hollywood abs simply by doing 10 minutes of crunches a day.
Once you find an exercise that you really enjoy or (more commonly) one that isn’t too difficult (hence, that’s why you enjoy it), it’s easy to get in a routine of doing that same exercise over and over. This often causes your body to reach a plateau because it becomes too accustomed to the routine.
Trying Radical Fitness Programs
Many exercises try “magic” pills or bizarre diets to get in shape. Not only do these programs not work, they can even be dangerous.
Strength Training Incorrectly
Knowing how to strength train correctly can be confusing. Novices often lift too little or too much weight, perform too few or too many reps and don’t know how much time to rest between sets.
Wrong Exercise Choices
One of the main reasons that people quit exercise programs is because they are bored or don’t enjoy the activity they are doing. In order to stay motivated, it’s important to participate in an activity that you enjoy doing.
Improper Weight Training Technique
Perfecting proper weight training techniques can be difficult. There are an infinite number of incorrect ways to complete the moves. Without proper guidance, it is easy to perform exercises incorrectly. This can easily lead to injuries.
Stretching is typically not a high priority on most people’s exercise checklist. But it should be because stretching helps prevent injuries, increases your range of motion, and improves coordination.
Trying to Spot Reduce
Many people think that you can get a flat stomach just by doing sit-ups or that you can make your butt smaller if you do enough squats. The truth is that in order to lose inches or tone up any part of your body you must work your entire body and ensure that you are burning enough calories.
Exercising Too Frequently
In a desire to get in shape quickly, many exercisers get too gung ho and exercise every single day or several times a day. It is important to find the right balance to ensure that your body gets necessary rest.
Not Warming Up
Once you get on your workout clothes and are ready to begin, it’s easy to want to skip the warm-up and go directly to the intensity level. But, you shouldn’t. What does “warming-up” really do? Well, as you might suspect it raises body temperature. This in return helps reduce muscle injuries and it assists in muscle performance.
Not Cooling Down
When your schedule is busy it’s tough enough to fit in a workout. So to add extra time for a cool-down can seem impossible. But it’s important to allow cool-down, even if just 5 minutes. This allows a gradual decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, researchers have found that exercisers who include a cool-down are more likely to continue to exercise because the last thing they remember about their session is the easy, more relaxing pace of their cool-down.