Whatever path you decide to take, here are a few tips to help guide you to a positive exercise experience.
It can be challenging to get yourself into a regular fitness routine. Choose something that you truly enjoy. This could be a sport you participated in as a child, a dance class you’ve been meaning to explore for years, or a completely new and exciting environment that pushes your comfort zone.
You want to do something that fits into your schedule on a regular basis. Everyone has energy at different times of the day. You might need a 6am spin class, a lunchtime HIIT workout, or an evening yoga session. Whatever it is, work your schedule around it so you’re sure to stay committed.
Pay attention to how you’re feeling when you try something new. Is your energy increasing or decreasing? Are you sleeping better or feeling wound up? Exercise is not just about how you look, but also about how you feel emotionally and energetically. The right choice for you will give you a sense of accomplishment, an increase in energy, self-confidence, and strength. Not exhaustion to the point of dreading doing it again.
Keep in mind that when you’re in a class or exercising on your own, there is much less (or no) personal attention from the instructor. Proper form is the key to injury prevention. If you’re not sure of a technique, ask the teacher. The person next to you might be doing it wrong, too.
Don’t be embarrassed to modify. Exercise modification is incredibly important, though sometimes our egos tell us to push beyond our physical limits. You can modify for your fitness level, as well as for any pre-existing injuries that you need to be mindful of. Keep in mind that everyone is coming from a different place, so there is no need to look at a class as competition. It’s no fun to hurt yourself and need to take time off from your exercise routine once you’ve finally gotten started.
The more you can confuse your brain, the more muscles it will have to recruit to perform the exercises. The more you switch up your routine, the faster you will see results, and you’ll be developing a well-rounded fitness program. It’s equally important to have a strong heart (cardio) as strong exterior muscles (resistance training). Adding variety is more likely to keep you inspired and excited, not bored.
Pushing yourself just beyond what you thought you were capable of is a great benefit to working out with a group. That being said, pay attention to the signals your body is giving you. A rigorous workout where you can “feel the burn” (ie. lactic acid in your muscles) is fantastic, but a sharp, shooting pain is an indicator to STOP!
Be sure to fuel your body before a workout, and replenish depleted cells afterward. You want to make sure you eat something small (up to 200 calories), balanced (a combo of protein and carbs), and healthy (no processed junk!), 1-2 hours before you exercise (you need at least an hour to digest).
After you get your sweat on, build those muscles back up with another balanced meal within 1 hour of completing your workout. If you don’t have time for a full meal, there are many natural snacks you can eat to help you recover. Greek yogurt with fruit, a natural snack bar (low sugar, high protein), or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (on whole grain, of course) will suffice!
Hydrate before and after your workout. Once your brain gets the signal that you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Get your ounces in before you sweat, so your body doesn’t have to worry about processing that cold water during your workout.
The jury is still out on how accurate these fitness trackers are. Some are certainly more high tech than others. I suggest using them as a rough gage of how much you’re moving from one day to the next. Do your best to “get your steps in”, but most importantly, make sure you’re raising your heart rate on a regular basis.
We are fortunate to have so many options when it comes to health and fitness. Try out a few of these options, and see what resonates with you. If you feel like you need more one-on-one guidance and motivation, give me a call!
By Allison Wells