Exercise damages your body – but don’t worry, this is a good thing! The physical benefits of exercise exist because the body over-repairs this damage, preparing you for bigger challenges in the future. However, in some people, the damage accumulates more quickly than the body can deal with, which is often due to overtraining or poor habits outside of the gym. Here are five ways you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your fitness routine.
Create a Balanced Routine
Too often, fitness enthusiasts stick to the same workouts every week. If you’re training for a marathon, you’ll probably be running on most training days, but for general health, you need more variety. You need five main types of exercise in your routine:
Aerobic exercise: anything that gets you breathing heavily counts as aerobic exercise. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Strength training: weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, or resistance band exercises. Do this twice a week, ideally working different muscle groups each time.
Flexibility exercises: regular stretching 2-3 times a week can help prevent muscle and joint problems in later years.
Balance exercises: these can be done every day and will reduce your risk of injuries due to falls.
Relaxation exercises: don’t forget to take some downtime!
It can also be good to switch up where you work out in order to make sure you’re including some variety in your regimen. Even if you’re a member of a fitness club, set up a small space to work out at home, such as in a garage, extra bedroom, or the basement. You don’t need to fill it with expensive equipment, either. One idea is to put a few dumbbells and resistance tools in your home gym, and make it your go-to spot for your strength-training days. If working out at home isn’t your thing, take your cardio session outdoors a couple of times a week by walking or jogging around your neighborhood or at the park. As a bonus, the fresh air and sunshine will give your mental health a boost.
Use Active Recovery
Don’t train so hard that you have to peel yourself off the floor after every session. Some of your weekly routine should consist of low-intensity exercises that are designed to get the blood flowing and the joints moving, but that won’t overwork your body. This is known as active recovery. Light swimming, yoga, and tai chi are great options, but you can also perform your usual routine, just at a lower intensity. Beyond exercise, you can also get a massage or use self-massage tools, like massage balls or foam rollers. This can help ease the tension in muscles that have gotten a little sore and tight after exercise.
Generally speaking, exercise will improve your sleep quality. However, the opposite is also true. Quality sleep improves exercise recovery, so you need to improve your sleep habits too. Start with your bed, and get good quality pillows and a decent mattress. The right mattress will have your preferred firmness and keep your spine aligned, which allows your body to relax and keeps you from waking up with aches and pains. Then, look at your room. Use white noise if you live in a noisy area, keep the room cool, and use blackout curtains to remove all light. If you can’t block out the light completely, an eye mask is the next best thing. After that, improve your habits. Avoid caffeine after 2:00 p.m., avoid vigorous exercise before bed, and try winding down around one hour before bedtime – no TV, work, or playing on your smartphone during that time.
It’s common knowledge that fueling your body with the right foods is important to your overall health. A balanced diet of protein, fruits, and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid long-term health issues like diabetes and heart disease. What many people don’t know is that what — and how much — you eat can impact the effectiveness of your workouts. Mistakes like overeating and under-hydrating can prevent you from achieving your fitness goals.
The right supplements are also part of a good nutrition plan. While you shouldn’t rely on them to meet your basic nutritional needs, supplements like probiotics can improve your physical and mental health by keeping your gut health in check. The key is to get most of what you need from whole foods, and supplement where it will make the biggest impact.
In an effort to curb their hunger, some people may take appetite suppressants. While these can help you lose weight, you’ll want to thoroughly research your options because some ingredients in suppressants may not mix well with your current diet or medications you’re taking.
Do Relaxation Exercises
As well as poor sleep, another culprit that can impair your workout quality is stress. Getting regular exercise and improving your sleep habits will reduce your stress greatly, but you should also follow a regular relaxation routine to help keep your mind calm. Group classes like yoga and tai chi are great, but you can also practice meditation at home. Mindfulness meditation is a simple technique to learn, albeit difficult to master. All you need is a chair or a comfortable cushion to sit on. It’s a good idea to set aside a calming space in your home that you can use for meditation – using the same place helps establish the habit and helps get your mind in the right gear.
There’s a lot to do here, but you you can save time by using activities that cover multiple bases. For example, jiu jitsu classes cover aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance training all in one session. Yoga covers flexibility, balance, and relaxation, and is a great active recovery method. Meditation is a great relaxation exercise, and if done before bed, can improve your sleep. Overall, don’t think of these four pursuits separately. They build on each other and all lead toward the same goal of improved health and well-being, so start working on your program today!
Thanks to Guest Blogger Shelia Olson for writing this article check her out at fitshelia.com