7 Tips to Get Fit in 2018!
Written by Bruce Vasbinder, Central Texas College Coordinator-Community Relations, and Adjunct Kinesiology Instructor
A common New Year’s resolution is to live a “healthier” lifestyle, which can mean starting an exercise routine, eating better, or both. Whether this is to counteract the indulgences of the holidays or for long-term health benefits, it can be challenging to maintain such significant lifestyle changes. Here are 7 tips to help you meet your goals safely and realistically.
- Physical activity and exercise are major contributors to a healthy lifestyle. Some benefits of regular exercise include:
- Prevent and reverse age-related decreases in muscle mass and strength
- Improve balance, flexibility and endurance
- Decrease the risk of falls in the elderly
- Help prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure
- Weight-bearing exercise can also help prevent osteoporosis by building bone strength
- Help chronic arthritis sufferers improve their capacity to perform daily activities such as driving, climbing stairs and opening jars
- Help control weight gain and, in some people, cause loss of fat
- One of the most important things to remember when starting to exercise is not to forgo the warm-up. Warm-ups allow the heart rate to gradually increase and prepare the body for vigorous activities such as lifting weights and cardio exercise. Do not just start stretching before your workout. Your muscles are cold and stiff and need to be warmed up sufficiently beforehand. Alternate a brisk walk and jog if you are outside or hit the treadmill for a few minutes to warm up the legs. Do a few push-ups or do a few reps with light weights to warm up the arms. After a sufficient warm-up, then stretch. Muscles will respond better to stretching once they have been warmed up. The stretch will help keep the muscles pliable during your workout which can improve your workout performance and help increase your flexibility to improve your range of motion and decrease the risk of injury.
- After your workout it is important to cool down by walking a lap or two and stretch once again. Muscles tend to shorten during exercise and stretching afterwards will help reset those muscles to their natural position and may reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
- If you haven’t worked out in a while, gradually build up your exercise tolerance. Exercise two or three days per week and take a day off between workouts when you start. As your body becomes more acclimated to exercise, you can start to work out more and with greater intensity. 30 minutes of modest exercise (walking is okay) at least three to five days a week is recommended, but the greatest health benefits come from exercising most days of the week. Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
- Almost any type of exercise (resistance, water aerobics, walking, swimming, weights, yoga and many others) is helpful for everybody.
- People are never too old to start exercising. Even elderly individuals can improve their strength and balance with exercise.
- Fuel the body before your workout with complex carbs such as fruit of high-fiber crackers. If you're exercising for 90 minutes or longer, add protein so the carbs can break down more slowly thus giving you longer-lasting energy. Some of the best choices are low-fat cheese and crackers, trail mix or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A huge mistake when trying to lose weight is avoiding all carbohydrates (carbs). You should avoid bad or simple carbs - those made with white flour such as white bread, non-whole grain pastas, junk food like potato chips, soft drinks, candy and breakfast cereals with high amounts of sugar.
Remembering these tips will help you more effectively implement your exercise routine and better understand what foods will fuel your body most efficiently.