Get the amount of activity you need
Each person should strive to get active for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Some of the many health benefits associated with exercise are improved bone density, improved muscle tone, cardiovascular improvements and increased energy levels. If you want to make a big impact on body composition or improve your athletic performance, you’ll need to strive to be active for longer periods of time. Aim for 60-90 minutes of varied intensity levels that fit in with your specific personal fitness goals.
Don’t be scared of exercise
The reason so many people avoid exercise is because they associate it with many negative things, like not feeling good, sweating, hard work and sore muscles. Now, I can’t promise that getting active won’t make you sweat, but I can tell you that if you follow a slow, progressive approach to getting active, you’ll start to associate fitness with improved body composition, body confidence and feeling great. Jumping into a routine too quickly can lead to increased muscle soreness, so be kind to your body and increase your intensity as your fitness level increases. If it’s too late and you’re already sore, plan a few days of easy exercise to recover, such as gentle walking and stretches. During your next session, push yourself enough to get results, but not so hard that you can’t walk the next day.
Take a fun approach to getting active
Your chosen activity should be fun because it’s what’ll keep you coming back for more. Avoid the extreme January jump or summer push and slowly progress your activity level as your fitness level improves. If you fall off-track, you’ll have to start back at the beginning. When you stop exercising, you lose some of your cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength.* Have confidence, though, because the climb back to where you left off may be faster than the first time you started out. Your body has an amazing muscle memory.
How to improve your fitness level
Here are some simple tips to get you started:
- Perform simple stretches to ensure you’re moving your muscles and joints through their full range of motion each day.
Increase your daily activity level by taking the stairs, parking in the furthest space from the store, and gardening, dancing, and playing with your children. Just get moving!
- Start adding regular walks to your day. You can slowly increase your time until 30 minutes feel comfortable. Then increase your intensity level by walking faster. Start including varied terrain such as hills, and then progress to a jogging or running pace.
- Perform bodyweight resistance exercises, such as simple squats, lunges, push-ups, and then progress to using weights.
The most important thing is to listen to your body. Push yourself enough so you feel like you’re challenging yourself, but not too hard that you risk getting injured or walk around feeling terribly sore the next day.
*Egner IM, Bruusgaard JC, Eftestøl E, Gundersen K. A cellular memory mechanism aids overload hypertrophy in muscle long after an episodic exposure to anabolic steroids. J Physiol. 2013 Dec 15;591(Pt 24):6221-30.
Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness at Herbalife