Caitlin Reid shares expert tips to help you achieve your diet and exercise goals and stay active over summer.
1. Commit yourself
Stop putting it off – make exercise a priority. Buy new sneakers, join a gym, download some workouts online or sign up a friend as your workout buddy.
2. Be realistic
Know your exercise limits. If you haven’t exercised for two years, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to walk or run as fast – or as far – as you did then. Set yourself a goal to walk for 10 minutes daily and increase the time from there. Making gradual increases in your workout routine will make you more likely stick to it.
3. Sign up to an event
Whether it is a 5km walk, a 10km run or a triathlon, signing up for an event will motivate you to keep to your training schedule so you perform at your best on the day.
4. Listen to tunes
Researchers have found that listening to music can give you a competitive edge. A 2005 Canadian study looking at the influence of music on weight loss in women over 24 weeks, found that those who listened to music while they worked out lost seven more kilograms and 4% more body weight than the women who didn’t. So grab your iPod and use music to push you.
5. Keep it fun
Do exercises you love! If you like to swim, then get fit by swimming. If you like to exercise in the comfort of home, pick up a DVD with a workout that appeals to you. Torturing yourself with exercise you don’t enjoy will make it almost impossible to stick to. Even a game of beach cricket with your kids counts too.
You hate exercise
6. Get a workout partner
Grab a training partner and use them to motivate you. Choose someone who is committed to their health, so you can help each other stay on track. Make sure you have fun in the session, too. Talk and joke together – exercise can be fun!
7. Think of the benefits
Instead of viewing exercise as a torture needed to lose weight, get active for the health benefits and the fantastic way you feel afterwards. Plus, exercise participation is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and happiness.
You lack time
8. Ditch the all-or-nothing mentality
When you don’t have 30 minutes for your usual workout, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at all. Use the time you have by upping the intensity and reducing workout time, ie. jog for 15 minutes instead of walking for 30.
9. Exercise in the morning
Getting up 30 minutes earlier each morning makes it easy for you to fit exercise into your hectic schedule, as nothing can get in the way of your training. Exercising first thing can also boost your energy levels for the rest of the day, making you more efficient at work.
Get results fast
10. Lift weights
Many females avoid weight training for fear they will ‘bulk up’ too much. Not so – women aren’t designed to build muscles like men. Weight training helps maintain and build muscle, making it easier to burn kilojoules, even when resting. So supplement your cardio training with two to three resistance sessions each week.
11. Add intervals
Alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with lower-intensity activities has been found to boost fitness levels faster than moderate continuous sessions. Try sprinting for a minute after every five minutes of walking; speed as fast as you can for one minute in every five on the exercise bike; or swim as fast as you can for a lap after every four regular laps in the pool.
12. Eliminate the weakest link
There will be some muscles in your body that will tire before others, causing you to stop training early. Identify these – they may be your calves or quads – and specifically train them with resistance exercises. Strengthening these will help you achieve more.
13. Mix it up
Daily activities often require you to do more than one element at once. Think of carrying shopping bags as you climb up stairs – you need strength to carry your bags, balance to keep you from falling off the step and endurance to get to you to the top. So base your training session on this principle by setting up a circuit. For example, skip for five minutes, do two sets of 12 push-ups and then work on your balance (by standing on one leg for 30 seconds) or flexibility (by stretching).
Don’t forget your upper body
14. Try pilates
Pilates is an all-over body workout that requires you to use your arms a lot. Grab a Pilates DVD and do it at home.
15. Larger muscles go first
Train your larger muscles such as chest and back, before smaller muscles (triceps and biceps). Your smaller muscles help your larger muscles perform exercises. Training the smaller muscles first will tire them out and make it difficult for you to train your larger muscles properly. This rule applies to your lower body, too.
16. Arm circuit
Complete three sets of 8–12 reps of push-ups, shoulder raises, bicep curls and tricep dips in a circuit. Rest after each set.
Get more from your workout
17. Have a latte before training
The caffeine in your coffee has been found to reduce ratings of perceived exertion – how hard you think you are working out at. This means that you can exercise for longer and harder before you feel tired.
18. Mind over matter
Your brain can tire before your body does, telling your muscles to stop working before they really need to. Recalibrate your brain to avoid this by gradually pushing yourself further each training session. Improve muscle endurance with isometric exercises – holding a position such as a squat for more than 30 seconds. This will help you walk or run further.
19. Fuel up before you train
Enjoying a snack containing carbohydrates – such as fruit, yoghurt or cordial – within 30 minutes of exercising can make you work out for longer.
20. Know when to stop
Know your body’s limits and don’t push too hard. Ignore the saying ‘no pain, no gain’. Too much exercise or training, especially when you’re injured, can lead to overtraining and do you more harm than good.
How much, how often, how hard?
21. Exercise for an hour
If you’re trying to lose weight, 30 minutes of physical activity isn’t enough. Research shows that you need to exercise for between 60– 90 minutes each day to achieve weight loss. 90% of successful weight losers in the US say they exercise for 60 minutes each day.
22. Move more
Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience. Every opportunity you get, move! Walk up the stairs instead of using the lift, or visit a work colleague at their desk instead of emailing them. Add in some exercise on most days of the week, too. This means structure into your week a walk, swim or social game of tennis with your friends.
23. Forget the ‘fat burning zone’
While it’s true that working out at slow to moderate intensities will burn a higher percentage of fat kilojoules than exercising at higher intensities, you actually burn more total kilojoules (and fat) when you exercise at higher intensities. While it’s fine to exercise at a slower pace or for a longer period of time, never slow down because you think the ‘fat burning zone’ is necessary. Remember, the more kilojoules you expend, the easier it is to maintain your weight."