Exercising is probably one of the top three New Year’s resolutions people make in the United States every year. But as we know, getting started, and maintaining an exercise routine, can both be very challenging. Yet, given the many benefits of exercise to our health, developing and maintaining an exercise regime is well worth the sacrifice.
If you’ve never been into fitness with any consistency, the first thing you should know is that getting active might seem like a chore or an unpleasant thing at first; but in a matter of a couple of weeks, if you exercise at least several times a week, you will begin to notice some of the huge benefits that regular exercise brings.
You’ll notice that you have more energy during the day; if you’re overweight, you will start to feel the soft fat under your skin firm up, as the fat gets used up by your metabolism, and muscles get leaner and harder.
You may want to wait a little while to get on a scale, though. If weight loss is one of your goals, you may actually put on a couple of pounds after you start exercising, before you start to lose any weight. That’s because muscle weighs more than fat, and as you lose fat and gain muscle, your weight may increase, until you burn more fat and you then begin to lose weight.
The following are great tips to help you get started on an exercise regime, and help you stick to it.
Start Out slowly
You don’t want to injure muscles or ligaments, which can happen very easily, especially if you’re out of shape. So, start by stretching your muscles for at least five minutes before you do anything else. You should also stretch once you’ve completed your physical activity.
Don’t try to do too much too soon. Start with 20- or 30-minute workouts; pick an activity that is low-intensity, such as brisk walking or bicycle-riding. As your condition improves, you can increase the length and intensity of your workout. Include a couple of minutes of slower movement before and after the workout — the warm-up and cool-down periods.
Pick an Activity that You Enjoy
This is paramount, as it will greatly increase the chances that you’ll stick with your chosen routine. The buddy system works great for getting fit — having a workout partner can motivate a lot of people. The companionship and camaraderie make the workouts more enjoyable.
You can also sign up at a gym and join an aerobics class or work with a personal trainer. This person can customize an exercise routine for you, teaching you exercises that will target specific areas you want to work.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
While it may be tempting to compare yourself to people who may look or be in better shape than you, this serves no useful purpose. Simply realize that if you continue working your muscles (and you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet), your body will keep meeting you half way. Maybe you don’t look like a swimsuit model when you start; but if you keep at it, you will be pleased with how you look after a while.
If you decide to do your workout routine by yourself, mix things around to keep them interesting — work out at different parks, walk or ride your bike in different neighborhoods, use different weight machines at the gym, join a different class, etc. Doing a variety of workouts will also better condition your body, as a slightly different set of muscles will be used in the different workouts.
Keep a Journal
Many people find that keeping a journal of their workouts helps them stay motivated. Write down facts such as your starting weight, the length of the workouts, their intensity and so on. As you confirm that you’re losing weight, or that your waist is getting smaller, or that you can now maintain a fast pace for longer, you’ll be thrilled and be given renewed motivation.
When you start to see improvements, buy yourself some new workout clothes or shoes; changing things up and making yourself look sportier will provide incentive for sticking with your new, healthier routine. Another great treat for a health-minded person is a juicer. A juicer will help you stay away from drinks that have no real nutritional value, such as sodas. And you’ll also get an enormous boost in the nutrients, antioxidants and dietary fiber that you consume. These will help keep you healthy, and the fiber will help keep your weight down.
By Lisa Pecos