The summer months are a great time to fine-tune your fitness skills and develop a habit of working out. Unfortunately, many people are given misinformation about exercise and end up injured or burned out and quit. Exercise should be fun and something you look forward to. The following nine tips will help you get started with a plan and stay motivated in order to meet your goals.
1. Warm-up and cool-down
A low-impact warm-up that mimics the activity you are going to do before you exercise is essential. It warms the muscles and gradually gets your body ready for increased intensity. Cooling down is also important as it relaxes the muscles, lowers the heart rate, and helps your body recover.
2. Stretch after your workout
Flexibility is one of the most important factors of fitness. Stretching after a workout is a must in order to improve performance, reduce injuries, improve posture, and gain an overall better fitness level. Mild soreness and aches are normal, but anything that persists over time or makes daily activities difficult to do, should be checked out by a doctor.
3. Stay hydrated
This means drinking water before, during, and after your activities.
4. Select exercises and activities that you enjoy
Maintaining a long-term exercise plan is correlated with actually enjoying your exercise. Make sure you choose activities you like. There is something for everyone; you just have to be patient and willing to try new things.
5. Set realistic expectations and goals
If regular exercise is relatively new to you, make sure you set small, realistic goals and appreciate that there are going to be setbacks. Skipped workouts, poor eating patterns, and stepping away from your plan for a short period of time happens. The main thing is to cut yourself some slack and get back on track as soon as possible.
6. Invest in a good pair of shoes
No matter which form of exercise you choose to do, a good pair of shoes is essential. If you plan on engaging in various activities during the week, try buying a pair of shoes that are multi-purpose and made for several forms of exercise.
7. Change up your workouts frequently
It's important to diversify your workout routine. If you do the same exercises day after day, you'll quickly tire of them and are more likely to skip your next workout.
8. Work out with a friend
Research shows that people are more likely to adhere to an exercise programme if they exercise with a friend. Find a friend to go to the gym with, join a running group, walk with a co-worker at lunch, or participate in a recreational sport.
9. Eat according to your activity level
Many people think exercising gives them the green light to eat anything they want. Like the old saying goes, you can't out-exercise a bad diet. Most people will only need a light snack of carbohydrates and protein before and/or after exercising. If a regular meal is within an hour before or after you work out, there is no need for an additional snack.
Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page, FitMom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. Follow Sara on twitter.