In this day and age we place a lot of emphasis on the importance of exercise. The CDC recommends that adults do at least of 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity. If you exercise five days a week, that’s about 30 minutes a day. The CDC also recommends at least two days a week of and muscle-strengthening activities. If you don’t have a half-hour block to do your aerobic activity, the CDC recommends you try breaking it down into 10-minute bursts.
If you do manage to find 30 continuous minutes, plus whatever time you need to complete the strength training requirements, you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to get the most out of your workout.
Eat Before Your Workout
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might be tempted to do it on an empty stomach, to force your body to use your fat stores for energy.
The problem is that exercise creates an immediate need for energy, and your body may not be able to break down fat fast enough to meet that need. As a result, you’ll get fatigued faster and you won’t be able to exercise as intensely or as efficiently.
At the same time, you don’t want to eat a heavy meal because that can also interfere with your exercise. When you eat, your body sends a lot of blood to your digestive tract to absorb nutrients. If you exercise after eating a heavy meal, you may not have enough blood flowing to the muscles, resulting in fatigue and muscle cramps; or, the exercise will divert blood away from the digestive process, resulting in gastro-intestinal distress.
Your best option is to have something light, like an energy bar or a fruit smoothie, about a half hour before you exercise. You will have the calories and energy you need, but your digestive tract won’t be working overtime during your workout.
Wear the Appropriate Clothing
You don’t have to spend a $1 million on the latest workout gear, but your clothing should fit well but allow you freedom of movement, and help wick moisture and sweat away from your body. Your shoes should provide the support and cushioning appropriate to the task.
For example, running shoes are designed to ensure proper form and protect the feet and joints from the impact of running; whereas, tennis shoes are designed to handle the stops, start, and pivoting that occurs on the courts.
You also want to make sure you have the appropriate support equipment and clothing.
For example, if you run you might consider running tights that encourage blood flow. These types of compression tights offer a measure of pain relief during recovery and also help you regulate your temperature when exercising in hot or cold weather.
On the other hand, during your weight routine, you may want to invest in a weight belt to support your lower back, and gloves to give you a better grip.
Focus on Your Exercise
In a study published by researchers at Edge Hill University and the University of Hull, both in the UK, revealed that subjects who focused on their biceps, while doing biceps curls, had significantly more electrical activity within the target muscles than those who focused on other things. The researchers have extrapolated that the same thing occurs with other muscle groups as well.
For example, the next time you’re in spinning class, focus on your legs and pedaling instead of all the things you have to do after class.
Listen to Music
Music has a lot of benefits: It stimulates brain cells, it reduces stress, it reduces your response to pain, and it can help you exercise harder and longer.
Some gyms play their own music, but then you’re stuck with whatever the music service decides to play that day. Your best option is to create your own playlist on an iPod or Mp3 player, preferably one that you can strap to your arm, or clip to your clothing.
While smartphone technology has made it possible to use your phone as a music player, the notification sounds can easily distract you from your workout. If you must use your phone, turn the notifications off, including the vibrations, during your exercise session.
Stretch After Each Session
After exercise your muscles are usually tight, which can constrict blood flow. Stretching loosens the muscles to allow blood flow; improving your recovery time and reducing your risk of post-exercise soreness.
However, you should not stretch before exercising because you can actually do yourself harm by stretching before your muscles have warmed up.