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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

Ways to Exercise - The Right Way and the Fun Way

While some exercise is better than going without, there are tips to ensure overall safety while still having fun!

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When it comes to desiring weight loss, exercise is sought out or increased to accelerate progress and results. But even beyond shedding off those unwanted pounds, regular physical activity is encouraged to support both physical, mental, and emotional health.

And while any exercise is encouraged over going without, there are proper ways to exercise to prevent injury and optimize its overall benefit.

The Right and Fun Ways to Exercise

1. Obtain Advice from Your Doctor

Although several health conditions can improve and benefit from exercise, it is still a good idea to consult with a doctor before starting any sort of workout regimen.

Their guidance and expertise can help tailor recommendations to fit personal needs and address the best ways to exercise, especially if living with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

2. Feel and Look the Part

Feeling discomfort from workout attire is the last thing many want to worry about during exercise. Feeling and looking the part also exudes confidence!

So wear clothes that do not restrict movements or blood flow, along with wearing breathable material while you sweat. And when picking out shoes, select a pair that accommodates the type of activity being accomplished.

Also be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, including layers in the extreme cold to prevent the risk of hypothermia.

3. Follow Workout Hydration Rules

Hydration is important for good health, especially during exercise.

Sweat is common during a workout, and hydrating the body can lessen the risk of muscle cramps that may arise if dehydrated. Adequate hydration is also important to keep metabolic processes running efficiently.

As a general rule of thumb, consume at least 64-ounces of water daily. Additional considerations suggest regular exercisers and athletes should drink 16 ounces of water leading up to activity, along with six to 12 ounces immediately prior to exercise and during every 15 to 20 minutes of active training.

4. Use Proper Warm-Up Exercises

Before jumping into a workout, it is important to participate in some sort of warm-up for approximately 5 minutes, or until the muscles feel warmer and heart rate states to elevate.

Warm-up with brisk walking, light jogging, jumping jacks, or riding on a stationary jumping jacks, or any other preferred exercise to elevate heart rate for at least five minutes. Additionally, stretching before exercising is discouraged, as it may increase the risk of pulling or straining a muscle.

Following a warm-up, stretch the loosened your muscles to make them more flexible. Do dynamic stretches, or slow and controlled movements, rather than remaining still and holding them. Dynamic stretches may include arm circles, leg raises, hip rotations, and flowing yoga poses.

5. Cool Down Appropriately

An effective cool down regimen can reduce pain and stiffness following a workout.

And while the muscles are still warm, do "static" stretches, breathing deeply and holding for up to 30 seconds at a time. These sort of post-workout stretches helps lengthen muscles and improve their flexibility.

Also take the time to cool down from a workout. A light, 10-minute walk or jog allows heart rate to decline back to normal, along with encouraging blood flow and removing lactic acid from your body.

6. Keep Moving and Heart Rate Elevated

Throughout the workout, keep moving to sustain an elevated heart rate.

According to the American Heart Association, target heart rate during moderate intensity activities is about 50 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate, while during vigorous physical activity it is about 70 to 85 percent of maximum.

Maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. To illustrate, a 30-year-old's maximum heart rate would be a 190. When completing moderate intensity exercise, heart rate should be in the range of 95 to 133.

Also rationalize workout exertion based on the ease (or lack) of conversation. Cannot hold a conversation? You may be exercising too hard. Can chat someone's ear off? You may not be exercising hard enough.

7. Follow Proper Ways to Lift Weights

Despite the exercise completed, focus on good form rather than trying to quickly crank out repetitions. Rushing and jerking movements, especially when lifting weights, may cause serious injury.

Even if workouts begin slow, maintaining good form can still lead to effective and apparent results. Rushing and jerking movements, especially when lifting weights, may cause serious injury.

Regarding the proper way to lift weights, you should be looking out eye level, while keeping both the face and shoulders relaxed, but chest facing up. Abs should be kept tight to support the lower back with the knees slightly bent to prevent locking.

Also lift an appropriate weight amount, as the selected weight should make muscles feel tired or fatigued, for a general max of 15 reps. It is also important to target all muscle groups as well as embracing muscle balance, including working both the front and back of the shoulders.

8. Rest and Slowly Progress for Workouts without Injury

No, resting does not mean resting on your health goals and remember Rome truly was not built in a day...

Biting off more than you can chew may actually hinder progress, as injury is more likely to occur if trying to lift too heavy or sprint too quickly. So gradually progress and be patient with your results.

The ability to add more weight and run quicker will naturally follow when remaining consistent with exercises. Also give muscle groups at least a day or two of recovery to prevent injury, while also listening to the body. If feeling incredibly sore, take the day off!

But if itching for some sort of exercise, incorporate active recovery in a regimen, including by practicing yoga or taking a hike out in nature.

9. Have Fun!

Ultimately, have fun! Because if exercise feels like a chore, there is a low likelihood to carry out a long-term workout regimen.

Besides, there are hundreds of ways to get active, including at a group cycling class or walking with the family dog. So experiment and try out new exercises, and continue the ones you love.

The most importance is not necessarily on how you choose to get active, just that you are!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Medically reviewed By Jenni Berman, PA-C. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on June 21, 2019.

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