Weight loss should not be your only goal when approaching a new exercise program. Although weight loss is a definite benefit, your overall health status should be the priority. Improving your health will give you the strength, energy, and stamina needed to live your life fully.
If you want to lose weight the right way, you do need to exercise. Increased physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. Increased fitness levels also improve cardiovascular function, muscular strength, flexibility, and muscular tone (body shape).
If this is not enough to convince you of the importance of exercise, consider that weight loss through diet alone will result in a greater loss of muscle. Although your body weight may drop without exercise, your relative body fat may increase. This in turn may lower your metabolism and make it harder for you to maintain weight loss.
Trust in the fact that your body actually wants to move and that by honoring this necessity, you will feel energized. If you take a gentle approach to exercise, you will find that you may actually enjoy it. Many people have been turned off to exercise due to bad experiences in the past. Whether you have horrible recollections of being laughed at in gym class or you have abused your body with extreme exercise, your relationship with healthy physical activity can be repaired.
The keys to enjoying exercise are simple.
Find activities that fit your personality. Consider all aspects of physical activity, such as individual or group, indoor or outdoor, competitive or non-competitive, traditional (such as aerobics class) or non-traditional (such as rock climbing or scuba diving). Don't give up until you find a good fit.
Start slowly and listen to the feedback from your body. Exercise should energize you, not exhaust you. Even if you start with only 5-minute sessions, move at the pace that is right for you. Everyone starts somewhere, don't judge or evaluate your starting point.
Realize and appreciate how your body feels and responds to the exercise. As your body warms up, you may feel invigorated. Following exercise you may feel warm, relaxed, and a sense of calmness. Tune in to your body and use this feedback to guide your actions.
Don’t beat yourself up for skipping a workout. Recognize that no one is perfect and accept that life often gets in the way of best intentions. This realization is a part of a healthy approach and attitude towards exercise. Recommit and make your next workout a priority.
Outdoor exercise can boost motivation and burn more calories, but with uneven terrain and unexpected weather conditions, it can be challenging. These tips will help you prepare before taking your workout to the trail.
Pick the right path
Choose a trail distance that is appropriate for your fitness level. Keep in mind that running or walking on a trail can be more physically challenging than a similar workout on the road or treadmill. Do your research first, and take a map with you. If you accidentally set out on the 7-mile trail, meaning to take the 4-mile loop, you might end up with a harder, longer workout than what you can handle.
Tell someone the details of your workout – where you will be, what trail you are using, and how many miles you plan to complete. Carry a form of ID, and your cell phone. You never know how isolated the trail may be, or when a pulled muscle or cramp will stop you in your tracks.
Practice wildlife safety
Educate yourself on general wildlife safety before heading out on a trail. Know what animals can be found in your area. Consider carrying bear spray if it is recommended. Also, research the hunting seasons. Seek the advice of wildlife officers on what parks or trails to avoid during this time of year.
Respect plants and the environment
Plants such as Poison Ivy and Poison Oak often line the edge of trails, and once the leaves come into contact with your skin an itchy rash can develop. When running on narrow or overgrown trails, consider wearing tall socks that cover your lower legs. Stay in the center of the path to avoid stepping off of marked areas. Overtime, stepping off the marked trail widens paths—leading to erosion and damaging plant life.
Wear the right shoes
If you decide to include trail exercise in your regular workouts, it’s a good idea to invest in a pair of trail shoes. Shoes designed for trail running and walking have a thick sole and toe guards to protect your feet from the rough terrain. The tread on these shoes is also better designed to grip the ground, improving traction as you maneuver over rocky hills and around tight turns.
Prepare for temperature changes
Keep in mind that the temperature and weather conditions once you are out on the trail can be drastically different. It may be cooler due to a climb in elevation or shaded areas; it could be raining; or it may be hot and humid. Dress in layers so that you are prepared for any change in weather. It is dependent on the season, but as a general rule the first layer should be a moisture-wicking shirt, the second a warming layer such as fleece, and the third a wind-breaker to protect you from the elements. You can remove and add layers, and tie unused ones around your waist as the temperatures fluctuate.
Make smart water and snack choices
For longer workouts, it is wise to carry water, and sometimes a snack. Small hiking and running backpacks with a water bladder (e.g. Camelbaks), or waist belts that hold small water bottles are ideal. Trail mixes, bars, and dried fruit work well for a light-weight, nutritious snack. But be aware of any recommendations regarding food and wildlife in your area.
A snack helps you push through a tough workout, but eat the wrong thing and you may have to check out of the gym early. Everyone is different, so determining the best foods and the best time to eat them is a learning process. These tips will help you pick the right snack whether you exercise morning, noon, or night.
Before Your Workout
The Mayo Clinic suggests that large meals be eaten at least 3 to 4 hours before a workout, small meals 2 to 3 hours before, and small snacks about 1 hour before. Choose foods that are balanced in carbohydrate and protein, and low in fat and fiber. Each person tolerates fat and fiber differently so experiment with food options to find what works best for you.
½ of an English muffin topped with 2 scrambled egg whites. (94 calories)
½ cup of cherry tomatoes with a ½ cup of low fat cottage cheese. (112 calories)
1/4 cup of oatmeal prepared with water and mashed with a ½ of a banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (135 calories)
20 mini pretzels with 2 tablespoons of hummus. (156 calories)
2 slices of unsweetened dried mango and 2 tablespoons of shelled pumpkin seeds. (140 calories)
1/4 cup of low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt topped with a ¼ cup of brown puffed rice cereal, and a ¼ cup of blueberries. (118 calories)
After Your Workout
Eat within two hours of finishing a hard workout to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Depending on the time of day you exercise, this may be a full meal, or it might be a small snack that gets you through to lunch or dinner. Choose foods that are balanced in protein and carbohydrate, but add more heart-healthy fat and fiber during your recovery. Also, include foods with high water content such as fruits and vegetables for rehydration.
A smoothie made with 1 cup of low fat milk, a ¼ cup of vanilla Greek yogurt, a ½ cup of frozen blackberries, a ½ cup of kale leaves, and 1 teaspoon of honey. (286 calories)
3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of honey, with 1 cup of red grapes for dipping. (219 calories)
A wrap with 1 whole wheat tortilla, 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado, 2 slices of smoked turkey, ¼ cup of shredded romaine lettuce, and 2 teaspoons of spicy brown mustard. (232 calories)
1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes mixed with 2 tablespoons of diced olives, a ½ cup of white cannellini beans, a ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and two chopped basil leaves. (212 calories)
1 cup of prepared black bean soup, and 1 piece of whole wheat bread topped with avocado spread (2 tablespoons of smashed avocado mixed with 1 tablespoon of prepared salsa). (270 calories)
1 cup of chopped, grilled summer squash drizzled with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 ounces of chopped, cooked chicken over ½ cup of whole wheat pasta. (302 calories)
As long as you stay within your daily caloric requirement, a bedtime snack will not ruin your efforts to lose weight. If you eat an early dinner, and can’t stomach a snack before a morning workout, a snack before bedtime can be beneficial. Be sure to keep it light so that it doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
1 sliced banana drizzled with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter that has been heated for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. (215 calories)
1/4 cup of dried tart cherries and a ½ ounce of raw walnuts. (220 calories)
Hot chocolate made with 1 cup low fat milk, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. (144 calories)
When asked to name your number one problem area, many would say the back of the upper arm. Unlike their counterparts (biceps), the triceps are frequently underutilized in daily activities and weaken without special attention.
The triceps muscle has three heads, or portions, that originate at the shoulder blade, upper arm bone, and elbow. The triceps come into play when extending the forearm, such as when using a hammer. Toning these muscles will decrease underarm jiggle. While decreasing overall body fat is the only way to reduce arm fat, firming the arm muscles will improve the overall appearance your triceps.
The American Council on Exercise has sponsored research to determine which exercises are the most effective for toning and strengthening the triceps. The 8 most effective triceps exercises include:
Overhead Triceps Extensions
Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions
Closed-grip Bench Press
Researchers concluded that the top three exercises on the list are sufficient for quickly toning and strengthening the back of the upper arm. This is because triangle push-ups and dips use your body weight to strengthen the muscles. Without the assistance of a weight machine, cheating on form and range of motion is more difficult. Triceps kickbacks can be done with dumbbells or weighted household items such as water jugs or canned goods.
Perform strength-training exercises that target triceps muscles at least twice per week. It is best to rotate through two or three different exercises at each session with two sets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise. To vary your pattern, you can increase the weight and decrease the reps down to 6, or decrease your weight and increase reps up to 15. The variety of exercises and intensity will help fully train the different portions of the muscle.
Interval training is defined as a workout that changes the intensity of exercise at various intervals -- typically with a hard bout followed by an easier recovery bout. When applied to cardio workouts, interval training is a great way to not only add variety, but to also crank up the number of calories burned. Research clearly shows that interval training is the best way to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness.
Interval training is a great way to challenge your body in different ways because the varying intensity requires a reliance on different muscles. This means that you get a better overall body workout.
You can add intervals to any workout by alternating lower intensity intervals, also known as recovery periods, with higher intensity work intervals. The length and intensity of each bout can be tailored to meet your individual needs and training goals. An example would be 30 seconds to 2 minutes of higher intensity intervals, alternated with 2 to 5 minutes of lower intensity intervals. If you are new to interval training, these tips will help you get started.
The more intense the work interval, the longer recovery period you'll need.
The work intervals do not need to be at the same intensity. Likewise, the recovery periods can also alternate intensity and duration.
There are various ways to crank up the intensity of the work interval. For instance, if you are jogging, you can either increase your jogging speed or increase your incline.
Remember to start off slow and work from your current fitness level. If you are a walker, start by eyeing an object in the distance, such as a telephone pole. Then power walk to the pole with good form. Return to your normal pace and maintain this until your heart rate returns to your target range. Repeat this process throughout your walk.
As your fitness level increases, adjust the difficulty of your session by either increasing the length or intensity of the work interval, or decreasing the time of the rest interval.
Interval training can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. Whether you're swimming, bicycling, rowing, dancing or circuit training, intervals can enhance the quality, and reduce the monotony, of any exercise session.