By Michael A. Smith, MDWhen your doctor tells you to exercise, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If it’s a negative thought or bad memory, you’re pretty much setting yourself up to fail.
If this sounds familiar, you may need to do a complete 180 on how you think about exercise, or simply just tweak a few things.
To help you set a new course, here are some helpful tips to get you moving, grooving and re-inspired.
Exercise ConsistentlyThis tip is all about reaching your goals. Follow a set schedule, yet change your program from time to time. You can’t improve physically if you take an on-off approach. Changing your routine occasionally helps to keep you motivated.
Here’s something else you can do to stay motivated — read blogs or websites that show you how others have been successful. Find out who inspires you and follow what they do.
Cool Your Hands When ExercisingCooling your hands will help you exercise longer. And the longer you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn. This is a good thing. But be careful; don’t overdo it. It’s important to know your limits. You’re in this for the long run so take your time.
Exercise in Short BurstsNew studies show that exercising in short bursts followed by a short rest period is effective for improving cardiovascular health. This is a variation of interval training which might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout. It is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise.
Stretching Prepares You Mentally for ExerciseStretching before and after your workout isn’t just about physical preparation and protection from injury. Interestingly, experts agree that stretching also helps mentally.
Set Realistic Exercise Goals"Don't strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can't be met," says Kara Thompson, spokesperson for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). "Focus instead on increasing healthy behaviors."
In other words, don't worry if you can't run a 5K just yet. Make it a habit to walk 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and intensity from there.
Make Your Exercise Plan Fit Your LifeAre you too busy to get to the gym? WebMD interviewed tennis star Martina Navratilova, health and fitness ambassador for the AARP and she said, "You don't need fancy exercise gear and gyms to get fit."
She went on to say, “If you've got floor space, try simple floor exercises to target areas such as the hips and buttocks, legs and thighs, and chest and arms (like push-ups, squats, and lunges). Aim for 10–12 repetitions of each exercise, adding more reps and intensity as you build strength.”
Don’t Think of Exercise as a JobBe sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing. If you hate weights, don't go to the gym. You can lose weight and get in shape with many forms of training or activity. And choose something that is convenient and fun. The key thing to remember is to get and stay active. Walk and run with your dog. Or rock climb, jump rope or play softball.
Watch Your Body ClockDr. Jason Theodosakis, assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Arizona, told WebMD to “watch your body clock.” Try to work out at the time you have the most energy.
If you're a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day. If you perk up as the day progresses, then plan your activities in the afternoon or evening. "Working out while you have the most energy will yield the best results," says Dr. Theodosakis.
Be PatientFinally, remember that even if you follow all these tips, there will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories. Just be patient, and don't give up! And we really mean it when we say … have fun. This could be the secret to lasting physical activity.
What are your favorite exercises? How do you stay motivated? Share your own tips in the comments!
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