It can be tough to figure out how to get into a new workout routine, no matter how hard you try to create a schedule you can stick to. Here, we’ll take a look at five steps that you can take to get consistent with your healthy lifestyle.
1. Get an accountability buddy.
It can be tough to go it alone when it comes to developing new habits, and hooking up with a friend for workouts can help you stay on track. When you know that someone else is depending on you to show up at the gym, you’ll be less tempted to skip out on your workout.
2. Find an activity that you love.
While you might not love every workout, you shouldn’t generally dread exercising. It can take some time to find a workout that you enjoy. Whether that means hitting up a group exercise class, getting out for bike rides on the weekend, or playing soccer with friends, finding an activity that you look forward to can go a long way in helping you stick to healthy habits long-term.
3. Fuel yourself properly.
It can be tempting to cut your calories in order to get faster results at the gym, but doing so creates unsustainable progress. It’s important that you take your time when losing weight and getting stronger, and that you focus on fueling your body so that it has the power necessary to carry you through your tough workouts. If you’re not sure about how to eat right, don’t try to figure it out by reading diet programs online. Schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian to learn how to eat in a way that makes your body work for you.
4. Get prepared.
Preparation is more than half the battle when it comes to working out. To get settled in a new healthy routine, you’ll want to make the process of getting to your workout as mindless as possible. The night before your workout, set up your clothes, fill your water bottle and put it in the fridge, and set up your equipment (if you’re working out at home). When you know that everything is in place and ready for you to get started in the morning, it can be a little bit easier for you to get up and moving as soon as you hear your alarm.
5. Reward yourself.
No, we’re not talking about taking yourself out for a cheeseburger and drinks at the end of a hard workout (sorry to disappoint), but choosing non-food related rewards for the accomplishment of fitness-related tasks can be a serious motivator. Think about getting a pedicure after you hit the gym for five days in a row, or getting yourself a new pair of running shoes when you finally hit your goal mile time.
Exercise is an important part of long-term health. The problem is that physical fitness is not always fun. You may not enjoy going to the gym and lifting weights. By making changes to your exercise routines, you can enjoy the process and make it fun at every level of fitness.
Have a Dance Party
Invite a few friends over and put on your favorite songs. Dance around your living room. Alternatively, go out dancing with friends. Even if you aren’t a skilled dancer, it is a fun workout when you are dancing with friends or family.
Play with a Frisbee
Call your friends and play some ultimate frisbee. You can also play with a pet dog or children. Spend time at a local park and enjoy the game.
Go Rock Climbing
Try rock climbing or going to a climbing gym. The activity is a fun way to exercise, develop a useful skill, and improve your ability to plan ahead. Bring a friend or loved one to make the activity more interesting.
Go for a Hike
Plan a hike with friends, family, or even a local hiking group. Spend time outdoors in nature while you also enjoy a workout. Intensify your hikes as your fitness level improves by increasing the duration of the hike or finding more challenging trails.
Take Martial Arts Classes
Learn a useful skill while doing a workout with a martial arts class. The classes require running, jumping, falling, and moving around with a group. It makes the class fun, while you also improve your fitness level.
Go for a Walk
A walk around your neighborhood, in a local park, or through an interesting shopping district is an option for any fitness level. Bring a friend for a chat while you enjoy a low-intensity workout. You can increase the difficulty by walking up and down hills or increasing your speed.
Enjoy a local swimming pool during the warmer months. You can also find an indoor pool for swimming throughout the year. Swimming is low-intensity, easy on the joints, and a fun way to exercise.
Play with Water Balloons
Gather a group of friends, join in with your children, or get the whole neighborhood involved in the ultimate water balloon war! Set up teams or enjoy a free-for-all with a fun activity that is appropriate for all ages.
Get a large jump rope and two friends for a fun activity with loved ones. You can also use a small jump rope for a fun workout in your home. Give yourself enough space to swing the rope over your head.
Play Workout Video Games
Set up your favorite workout video game and follow along with the routine. You can use a Wii Fit, a dance video game, or any virtual video game that requires active movement and activity.
Improving your health and fitness does not mean going to the gym and working with weights. Enjoy your workout by focusing on fun activities that require running, jumping, or moving around.
Whether you want to bulk up your body or be healthier, adding muscle is a vital part of your plan. There is more to it than just lifting weights, though. There are fundamental principles that can help ensure your success.
What Causes Muscle Growth?
When you do strength training, you create small microtears in the muscle. After your exercise, the body will break that muscle down and build it back a little better than it was before. The goal is to keep you from injuring that muscle again.
That is the basis of strength training. You need to continue to challenge that muscle even as you get stronger to keep the process going.
Five Fundamentals to Building Muscle
The key is to stress the muscle continuously so the body feels the need to make it stronger.
1. Set Your Weight Level Based on Repetitions
You already know that the goal is to stress the muscle, but how do you know when that is happening? If you can lift the weight over 20 times, it’s not. So you need to choose weights that are heavy enough but not so heavy that you can’t lift them safely.
Ideally, you want to lift the weight between six to 12 times to build muscle and between 12 to 20 times to maintain it. If you can raise it more than 20 times, increase the weight.
2. Target Specific Muscle
To build muscle, you need to isolate it. You can do this with individual muscles, like lifting barbells to isolate the biceps. Or you can target large muscle groups. For example, squats target the legs, lower back, glutes, or butt.
You can also do compound strength training, such as lifting a barbell while doing a squat. This isolates the bicep and adds additional stress to the large muscle group.
3. Don’t Overtrain
It seems like common sense that the more you lift, the more muscle you build. However, the truth is your body needs time to go through the process of breaking down the muscle and building it back up. If you interrupt the effort, you risk injury.
This is why you should rotate your training to work on different areas daily. If you work the arms, chest, and upper back on Mondays, don’t do it again on Tuesdays. Instead, switch to legs, butt, and lower back.
4. Tension is Just as Important as Weight
You will still get some benefit if you lift weights fast, but if you add tension to the mix, you’ll do even better. For instance, try raising a weight very slowly, holding it for five seconds, and then lowering it slowly.
5. Diet is an Essential Part of Strength Training
Protein has the essential elements your body needs to build muscle, so it should be your top priority. Research suggests that you need to eat .72 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. So, a man who weighs 200 pounds would need to eat 144 grams of protein every day.
The key to building muscle is a combination of following the right exercise strategy and eating plenty of protein.
Many people are attracted to running because of the physical benefits it brings. For people looking to lose weight (or keep it off), improve their endurance and stamina, and just to feel better overall, running is one of the best types of exercise there is. But there are some surprising benefits of running that make it an even more attractive form of exercise than it might initially appear to be.
Running can help you feel better when you’re awake, to be sure. But running also helps you with sleep. Indeed, you can get to sleep faster and sleep deeper and better if you’re a runner. As Johns Hopkins Medicine reports, there’s a correlation between exercise and deeper sleep. Researchers don’t know exactly why, or what time of day is best for exercising to bring about better sleep, but there are some indications as to how the correlation might work.
According to that article, “Moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate.”
However, aerobic exercise results in an endorphin release, so if people exercise too close to bedtime, it can actually delay sleep. Exercise also raises the core body temperature; the Johns Hopkins article advises, “Elevation in core body temperature signals the body clock that it’s time to be awake. After about 30 to 90 minutes, the core body temperature starts to fall. The decline helps to facilitate sleepiness.”
Not only does running help you to sleep better, it also helps you to think better when you’re awake. A Runner’s World article lists a number of connections between the exercise that comes specifically from running and cognitive function.
One of the ways in which this happens is that you literally build up your brain as you run. According to the article, “Exercise drives the growth of new nerve cells (neurogenesis) and blood vessels (angiogenesis), which combine to increase brain tissue volume.” It also points out that “regular exercisers increased the volume of their hippocampus – that part of the brain linked to learning and memory.” That two percent boost is intriguing when you consider that scientists didn’t think that part of the brain could grow at all in adulthood.
And your brain doesn’t just get bigger with each run — it gets better. The Guardian points to numerous studies showing increased cognitive function associated with running in several different areas. That includes executive function, described in the article as “a suite of mental high-level faculties that include the ability to marshall attention, tune out distractions, switch between tasks and solve problems.” It also points to connections between exercise and improved memory, as well as running-generated endorphins contributing to better overall brain health.
So, while there are clear physical advantages to running, the mental side of what you get from pounding the pavement can’t be overlooked. Start a running regimen, and it might be reflected in how rested you are and how much smarter you might feel.
Cycling is a low-impact physical activity that you can incorporate into your routine as a casual activity, mode of transport, or competitive sport. Beyond the widely known benefits of cycling, such as weight loss, stronger legs, and less stress, there are other lesser-known but research-backed health benefits of regular cycling. These include;
1. Improved brainpower
In addition to better mental health, regular cycling (exercise) can reduce depression and anxiety. In a sample of over a million study participants in the United States, researchers discovered that low-impact physical activities like cycling are linked to more brainpower. Another 2019 study revealed a link between cycling and improvement in cognitive functions.
But it’s not just adults who can benefit from regular cycling. A 2014 study featured in Pediatrics revealed that bike-riding activities more positively impact children. Also, regular exercise can help control issues such as attention deficit disorder in kids.
2. Reduced risk of cancer
Regular cycling could help maintain a healthy weight. A combination of a healthy weight and a conscientious diet (one with lots of lean proteins, healthy grains, and leafy greens) can lower your risk of cancer. A 2015 study review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association evaluated about 14,000 men. The study included participants with higher fitness levels. As they approached middle age, they were at a reduced risk of colorectal and lung cancer.
3. Lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
Cycling regularly can also ward off Parkinson’s disease. A 2018 study confirmed that regular exercise could lower the men’s risk of Parkinson’s disease. According to this study, putting just over three hours of cycling weekly at a pace of 10 miles per hour (mph) to 12 mph can lower your risk significantly. Plus, more exercise comes with other health benefits, such as better cardiovascular health.
4. Slow aging
As it turns out, aging can cause a gradual loss of muscle mass. It might not give you eternal youth, but various studies have revealed that cycling and other low-impact to high-intensity interval workouts have considerable anti-aging benefits down to your cellular level. Connective tissue and fatty tissue start invading, affecting your muscle’s ability to contract. Fortunately, regular exercises such as cycling can help slow down muscle mass loss.
According to a 2017 study, people who perform low-impact to high-intensity exercises have an increase in mitochondrial capacity. Therefore, the better your cells’ mitochondria can function, the more rejuvenated you will look – the slower the aging process. Note that a decline in mitochondrial activity can result in physical decline, which manifests as aging.
Regular cycling offers many health benefits and can help lower the risk of several common health conditions. For instance, it can boost your brainpower, lower cancer risk, slow your aging process, and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. It’s also suitable for most people, and you can safely add it to your daily routine. Be sure to wear protective gear and ride in areas with less air pollution.