Exercise is the weight loss wild card. It can be the “X factor” that makes weight loss fun. More energy, faster fat burning, the chance to spend time with friends – the benefits are huge!
In fact, exercise may be more critical to your weight loss than you realize. Lasting weight loss happens when you consistently burn more calories than you consume. It’s that simple. That means your exercise program is every bit as important as what’s on your plate. It has even been suggested that your level of activity may have an even greater impact on weight loss than proper nutrition. After all, cutting calories without exercising can just slow down your metabolism.
Unfortunately, exercise is often treated like the ugly, sweaty stepchild of diets. So this week, you’ll focus on setting up and meeting your weekly exercise calorie burning goals.
Do visions of drudgery, perspiration and pain swim through your mind when you hear the word “workout?” The good news is that you can consistently stay fit anywhere. Consistent exercise is a lifestyle, a habit of staying active every day, not just for 1 hour a day, 3 days a week. There’s no denying that gyms have a tremendous variety of exercise options. But fitness can also be found in your yard, at a company picnic, even on the beach.
A Smart Fitness Program
If you’re not already exercising, just focus on functional fitness for now, mainly elementary exercise and stretching. This includes walking, maybe some light bike riding or swimming, mainly trying to get a little more active and flexible. Start taking the stairs, turn off the TV and go outside, play in the garden a little bit, mow the neighbor’s lawn as a surprise, go dancing! It may not seem like much, but by getting active early, more involved exercises and higher stages of fitness won’t seem hard at all.
If you don’t like a particular exercise – don’t do it! Find ones you like and enjoy. The most important thing is to stay active, which means liking what you’re doing. A calorie burned on the elliptical machine is the same as a calorie burned on the stair-stepper. If you’re consistent and continue to burn calories, it will work. Also, remember to mix it up. Too much of the same exercise over and over can actually slow your progress.
Cardio, strength and stretching are the three legs that support a balanced fitness program. Each leg helps and feeds off the others, increasing your performance, reducing injury and helping you lose weight faster (which is the ultimate goal, right?) Try to add something from each of these areas to your workout menu.
Cardio (hiking, biking, tennis, rollerblading) conditions your heart, lungs and muscles to work stronger and longer. It builds endurance and burns off a lot of calories.
Strength Training (weights, nautilus) builds muscles and helps your endurance as well. With leaner muscles, your body turns up the heat and burns fat a lot faster. Not only that, but when you're stronger and last longer, you get more out of your cardio session, thus burning even more calories. Double bonus!
Stretching helps you do your cardio and strength training safely and without pain. Loose muscles perform at a higher level and make it easier to get out of bed the morning after a tough workout.
So take that first step. And then another. And another…
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