No matter how much you try to fool yourself, physical activity is a basic element of health. Is there anyone left that believes you can have health without physical activity? My own personal belief is that everyone has their own optimal levels of activity, but nevertheless, all the literature I’ve come across all agrees you need it to live a healthy lifestyle and get the full benefits of health.
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of physical activity in your lifestyle, as long as it is consistent (everyday) and for at least ½ hour. As you get more fit, you’re going to WANT more physical activity (it may be hard to believe, but it IS true). But for now, why not get the maximum benefits from a minimum amount of time? The following tips will help you put a little more ooomph! into your physical activity.
Here are 7 tips for making the most out of your workout time:
- Breathe. It is the one thing we do most often without even thinking about it. While this unconscious behaviour helps us survive, it also creates problems for us. We forget how important oxygen is to our systems! We all need oxygen to function optimally: mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally/socially. There’s different ways to breathe for different activities, for instance, the general rule for breathing in weight training is breathe in through the nose when you contract the muscle. When moving the muscle back to the start position, breathe out through pursed lips.
- Watch those physical fitness DVDs a few times before trying them out. It takes awhile to learn something new and people often quit soon after they start because they just can’t “do it right”. While many learn better by doing, there’s something to be said about giving your full attention to a lesson. Before you even try the exercises yourself, sit back and ingest the instructions first (heck, why not make it extra fun: grab some popcorn – it’s great fiber!).
- Learn proper technique. The above tip will help you practice proper technique which is using the correct posture and therefore muscles to perform each exercise. Good form makes for a more an effective and safe workout. Many videos these days have bonus features which give you tips – watch and listen to these first and you’ll be sure to get the techniques down more quickly.
- Forgive yourself… for not performing the exercises in perfect form. Your muscles (especially the ones needed to make most of these moves graceful) are not yet developed. But every time you do the movements to the best of your current ability, even if you can’t feel it working, your muscles ARE getting stronger. In no time, you’ll be outperforming those energetic and sometimes annoyingly motivating video instructors.
- Challenge yourself when you’re ready. You’ll know you’re ready when you start getting bored with your routine – your body will automatically start craving challenge and carving out a more perfected movement. Really concentrate on the muscle contractions or shake things up trying something new. Do whatever you need to do to keep things fresh in your healthy living routine.
- Get a poster of the human muscular system. Visualization is a powerful tool for athletes, so why not try it out for yourself? Using imagination in your fitness routine may be harder than you think but a muscle chart will help you do this. Study the muscle groups or have the poster hanging in your workout area. You can then imagine your own muscles contracting as you pump that iron…or squeeze those buttocks in yoga, tense your abs in pilates, etc.
- Use mirrors. Sometimes you need more than imagination to help keep good form and contracting those muscles. If you don’t have a personal trainer or a faithful friend to watch when you’re using improper technique, try doing your workout in front of some mirrors. Eventually, your muscles will start to show and ripple beautifully as you move and you won’t need extra assistance, like a muscle chart, friend or mirror!
Try some of these tips and let me know if it helps. Then keep trying them for another month and you’ll have a new story to tell. If you persist, I guarantee you’ll be satisfied with the results. Not only will you have a smokin’ HOT body, feeling your own physical strength does wonders for self-awareness and self-confidence.