1. Get in shape.
In addition to helping you lose weight and gain confidence, exercising has a host of other benefits for your body and mind. Having good cardiovascular health has been linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s, just to name one. So hit the pool for a swim, the pavement for a walk or jog, or the park for a hike as often as you can.
- Exercising boosts your immune system too; even a change as minor as walking briskly for 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week can improve your immune system by increasing both your antibody and T-killer cell response.
- Exercising is also one of the absolute best ways to sleep better at night—which can help you lose weight by keeping you from overeating. Read How to Get Fit for more details.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
Our physical frames vary in size and weight. An individual with a large frame can carry a little more weight while a person with a light frame will be able to carry less.
- Being underweight isn’t a good thing either! Do not use any form of crash diets. There is no magic bullet for weight loss—and even if there were, starving your body of vital nutrients wouldn’t be it. A slow change in your eating habits is much safer and the long-term benefits for your physical health are greater.
- If you don’t want to go on a diet, read How to Lose Weight Just by Exercising. Just remember that only serious athletes are able to burn off enough calories to be able to enjoy massive indulgences—and even so, they tend not to because it’s hard on the body. Even if you do consume more calories than are recommended for you, be sure that they are nutritious; your heart, brain, muscles, bones, organs, and blood can’t run forever on empty calories.
3. Cross train.
Just because you can run 5 miles (8.0 km) without stopping doesn’t mean you’re healthy—same goes for lifting weights the size of a small car. If you only do one activity, you’re only using one set of muscles. You’ll be shocked when you go swimming or do core workouts that you can’t keep up!
- What’s the answer? Cross training. Not only does doing several different activities work all your muscles (which can help prevent injury), it also keeps you from getting bored. That’s the ultimate exercise killer! So include aerobic and strength training workouts to your routine. Your muscles will be glad you did.
4. Exercise wisely.
It should go without saying that there are bad ways to work out. Every time you get moving you put yourself at risk for injury, so make sure you’re doing it right!
- First things first, stay hydrated. You should always be sipping water during your workouts. Getting dehydrated can lead to dizziness or headaches during your sweat session (or lack thereof).
- Take breaks! It isn’t being lazy, it’s being healthy. You can’t go-go-go forever. After 30 minutes or so of exercise, grab your water bottle and lighten up. Your body needs a second to catch up. You’ll be able to go further in the long run.
5. Take advantage of opportunities to be active.
Being physically active isn’t about pounding the pavement or joining a gym—it’s a lifestyle that can be had 24/7. If you can add extra 10 steps to your day here and there, they add up.
- Don’t have any ideas? Park a bit farther away from work, the mall entrance, or the grocery store. Ride a bike to work or school. Take the stairs. Walk the dog every day. Take lunch to the park. Bike to work or the local coffee shop. Little opportunities are everywhere.