Simple Secrets For Staying (or Getting) In Shape

0 comments Posted on April 26, 2012

Grab a Partner and Get Going!

Everyone wants to be in top shape physically, but it can be hard to get motivated to exercise. If you are not currently exercising at least thirty minutes three times a week, your body, mind, and emotions are paying for it. Medical experts say that lack of exercise affects your immune system, sleep patterns, stress levels, and physical health. So how do you start an exercise routine you can finally stick to? Try these tips for making your work out wonderful:

Grab a partner. Studies show that those who exercise with someone else are far more likely to get in the habit of working out regularly. If you know someone else is sweating right next to you, somehow the pain is not that bad. ‘I am much more likely to go on my evening walks or head to the gym if a friend joins me,’ says Noelle Hall, a wife and mom in Florida. The key to success with a partner is to pair up with someone who wants to do the same activities and is around the same skill level or pace as you. Another factor for making an exercise partnership a success is to find someone who is geographically close to you, like a neighbor, or friend who belongs to the same gym. Your schedules should also have exercise times that accommodate you both, so getting together isn’t such a hassle that you give up quickly.

Choose a cardiovascular activity (one that gets your heart rate up) like brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming that you like to do. Chances are, you will quickly quit anything that you absolutely hate. If you have not been in the habit of exercising regularly, start out with just five to ten minutes daily or every other day. Begin your exercise routine in bite-size chunks of time. That way, you don’t get so tired and sore from pushing too hard the first day that you put away your sneakers and go back to watching TV! Each week, increase your time in five-minute increments until you are getting a 30- to 60-minute workout.

Get tennis shoes that fit properly and offer you the right support for the exercises you choose. Ask a personal fitness trainer or knowledgeable sports store salesperson what they recommend for you. Make sure you have comfortable clothing that allows you to move.

Decide whether you will exercise at home, at a local pool, at the gym, or the YMCA. Figure out your options and what best fits your schedule, budget, and personal preferences. You may also want to hire a personal trainer for a few initial sessions (although they can be quite pricey) to teach you a routine that will address your specific needs.

Don’t forget to stretch! Stretching before and after cardiovascular activity loosens muscles and prevents soreness, cramps, and even tearing.

While cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart, it won’t dramatically change your body shape. To sculpt specific areas of the body, weight training and resistance exercises are required. That simply means that those particular muscle groups need to be worked out individually, with weights added to increase the work the muscles must do. Weight training can be done with dumbbells, exercise machines, and even household items like cans of soup.

Here are five exercises to help tone your overall body that you can do at home, in the park, or just about anywhere. Try to do ten to fifteen of each of these for a basic exercise routine:

Wall Push-Ups
Stand about one to two feet back from a wall and face it. Place your palms straight out in front of you and flat on the wall a little more than shoulder width apart. Lower yourself toward the wall by bending only your elbows, then push back. Try to keep your body straight and stiff while you are doing these.

Crunches
Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Hold your hands wherever you feel comfortable (on your chest or beside your head – just be sure you don’t pull on your head). Roll your upper body forward, and push your chest and head up toward the ceiling. Try to keep your lower back on the floor, and never use your hands to push your head up. Hold for a few seconds at the top of the movement and squeeze hard. You can also increase the stretching movement by touching your left elbow to your right knee, followed by your right elbow touching your left knee. Repeat ten to twenty-five times.

Squats
Place your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointing at an angle outward. Slowly lower your body, with your hips moving back as if sitting in a chair. Maintain your weight directly over your heels or mid-foot. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.

Stand Calf Raises
Stand with only the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair, a curb, a wooden block, or the like. Keep your knees stiff and lower your heels down toward the floor, bending only at the ankle. Go down until you feel your calves stretch. Then reverse the direction (without bouncing) and push up as high as you can. Do both legs together to start. As you become stronger, do them one leg at a time.

Lunges
Stand straight, then take a long step forward, sideways, or backward, landing on the ball of the foot and bending the rear knee slightly. Lower your body until the front knee is flexed to a 90-degree position. Pause, then return to a standing position. Repeat with the other leg. Try to keep your back straight and head up during each lunge.

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