It’s a new year and there has never been a better time to get yourself into good fitness habits. People are often discouraged from exercising because they feel that it is too much effort or they don’t have enough time, but you may be surprised how easy it is to actually stay fit.
A Harvard University study found that in order to stay fit and healthy, most women require approximately two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. While this may sound like a lot if you have a very busy schedule, doing 30 minutes, five days a week is fairly doable for most people. Alternatively, three 50 minutes sessions every week will also do the trick. Take note of these five simple workout rules and you’ll start seeing results in no time at all.
1. Balance your workouts
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to working out is doing too much of the same thing. While you may enjoy one specific type of exercise, it’s important to make sure that you are balancing your workouts to incorporate both strength training and cardio. While cardio is important for keeping your heart strong, increasing your lung capacity and reducing your risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, strength training will help you to build muscle and burn more calories.
Most studies suggest that doing at least one hour of strength training a week is ideal, with cardio helping to supplement your strength work. If you don’t have a gym membership, purchasing a medicine ball, kettle bell or weights to use during your home workouts is a great way to ensure that you are regularly strength training.
2. Choose a workout you enjoy
This is your workout so it’s important to find a routine that fits in with your schedule and keeps you wanting more. If you’re stuck for ideas and need some inspiration heading along to a class at the gym could be a good place to start. It’s best to make sure that you are spreading your workouts throughout the week and allowing yourself days to rest and recover if you plan on having a particularly intense workout. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water after each workout.
3. Make time for recovery
People often forget that what you do after your workout is just as important as what you do during your workout. After every workout it’s important to warm down by doing some stretches that work multiple muscle groups, including your pecs, arms, abs, chest, thighs, and calves.
Not only does stretching help to increase blood flow to your muscles, but it also helps to improve flexibility, mobility and helps to decrease the chance of injury by helping your muscles to warm down. For optimum results, experts recommend holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds to ensure that you allow enough time for your muscles to properly lengthen.
4. Don’t quit
Most of us have the best intentions when it comes to exercise, but as the year progresses and our days start to rapidly fill up, it’s easy to lose motivation and let exercise fall onto the back-burner. A recent study found that the single most motivating factor in encouraging people to exercise was competition and those who were able to compete against others demonstrated an increased level of motivation.
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, try enlisting the help of a friend, family member or workmate to help makes things a little bit interesting. Keeping a simple tally chart for you and your buddy of how often you each workout, and rewarding the winner with a simple prize, has been scientifically proven to be effective in driving motivation. It may sound silly, but you may be surprised how much the desire to ‘win’ and the promise of a prize may motivate you to get out and exercise on days that you would rather spend on the couch.