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Home LIVING Health & Fitness 10 Great Ways (Tips) to Stay in Good Shape

Should you exercise? Of course you should. There are many benefits of exercise that has already been published so many times in many publications, magazines, newspapers and many others. Even the Government is promoting exercise. According to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research here are some benefits of exercise:

* Improves your mood
* Combats chronic diseases
* Manage your weight
* Strengthens your heart and lungs
* Promotes better sleep
* Puts a spark back into your sex life (wow!)

And I can vouch that all of that is true for me. So how do you start to exercise? Actually the problem for most is not the starting but in maintaining this exercise as part of your life's routine. Even for me, some days can be a drag to get out and run my 4 kilometers. But I do it because it gets better after I have hit the road and I know I will enjoy it after some moments of warm-up. And for the rest of the day, my energy levels and mood remains on the positive side. That keeps me going, and now it has become such a habit that I felt weird if I did not go out and run each day.
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Before starting your exercise program, if you have been inactive for a long time or if your body weight is over the edge, you should consult a physician or doctor before embarking on your exercise program.

The best thing you can do is to start exercising. Here is a list of 10 steps on how you can get started.

Step 1
Choose an exercise that is fun for you. I choose running as my main exercise and I do switch to other stuff like swimming and gym-work sometimes as to make things interesting. Also make sure that the exercise suits you physically. Consult a doctor if you have some medical conditions that may make certain exercise unsuitable.

Step 2
Get a partner, either a spouse, friend, office mate or relative. If you do this alone you may not have the willpower to do this on your bad days. But a partner can encourage you to stick to your plan. You will also do the same for your partner. Also if you have made an appointment to run with your partner today you are more likely to keep that appointment than if you are on your own.

Step 3
Choose a time that is suitable for you. And stick to it no matter what! You should choose a time when your energy levels are moderate to high and not soon after a meal. If you are a morning person, early morning is good, before the day starts as this will boost your energy levels throughout the rest of your day. But if you are a late afternoon person, then do it in the afternoon. If you activities are outdoors, make sure that it is not too hot or you can do it under a shade. Running under the hot sun is not a show of stamina! Don't do that.

Step 4
Get suitable attire. If you are planning on running, do yourself a favor and get a good pair of shoes. If your sport is swimming, get a comfortable swimming attire and goggles. Note that I said suitable attire, not expensive attire. Brand names may not actually be good.

Step 5
Warm up. This is important to avoid injuring yourself. No point starting exercise and ending up in the doctor's room - this will suck for your exercise plan. It is important to warm up and stretch all parts of the body and not just those that you're going to use in your particular activity. How long to warm-up? A good time would be a warm-up period of 5 to 10 minutes. If you are running for example, do some basic stretches then start to walk and slowly pick up the pace to running or jogging.

Step 6
Vary your pace or level of activities. This is important especially if one of your goals is to reduce fat. Regular burst of intense activity, for example a short burst of a minute run every 5 minutes of jogging, causes the body to burn more fat. Also the body starts to burn fat after some 20 to 30 minutes of exercise.

Step 7
Watch out for warning signs that the body is telling you. Feeling some muscle ache is normal if you are just starting to exercise. But any form of pain if not okay! If you are feeling pain, it means that what you are doing is either not suitable or too intense for your level of fitness at the moment. If you injure yourself during exercise, make sure you rest and recover before continuing. Know the limits of your body.

Step 8
Have a progression plan. If you start out by brisk walking 15 minutes a day. Increase this amount each week by an additional 2 - 5 minutes. Then maybe you can progress to slow jogging or longer walks. As your stamina and fitness improve you need to up the bar slightly for your fitness to improve. Eventually you will hit a plateau where further improvements are harder to achieve. At this point you can decide to continue at the level that you are doing now or work hard to push past the plateau.

Step 9
Find a way to measure your progress. This is an important motivator for you and your partner and can be critical at keeping you going. Make sure your measurement is accurate for the goals that you want to achieve. For example, if you goal is to reduce fat, then weighing yourself is NOT an accurate measurement. Instead you need to measure your body fat index, or simple make measurements of your physical size (you know measurements of chest, waist, butt and things...). That is because as you become fitter, you gain some muscles. You look fitter and slimmer but because muscle can weigh 18% more than fat per unit volume (more dense). Don't set yourself up for disappointment by measuring the wrong thing.

Step 10
Eat healthy. No point in exercising and then stuffing yourself with junk-foods afterwards right? Granted that you can eat your favorite cheeseburger once in a while, but keep it in moderation. You will be hungrier after you've started your exercise routine, so you may need to eat more than usual. But that does not mean stuffing yourself! You can enjoy the fact that you will have higher tolerance for fatty foods after you start regular exercise (means you can eat a wee bit more of them) but that depends on your original eating habit in the first place. If you have been stuffing yourself in excess before this, then you may actually need to cut your intake of these unhealthy foods.

Finally do put some fun into your routine. Maybe listen to some songs or e-books while running in the park. Cycle near the coast and enjoy the view and sea-breeze if you live near the sea. Join a short mini-marathon once in a while with a group of friends. Reward yourself sometimes with a good nice meal that you crave.

Basically exercise and fitness is a lifestyle, and it can be addictive. Once you get into gear you will wonder how you could have lived without it.


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