Beginners Guide to Exercise

Health & Style - have a fantastic guide for beginners fitness that can be accessed here:

However below are some of the key points from their article.

The Beginner's Guide to Exercise

Cardio v weights

If you're just getting started on your fitness journey, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of information out there. But don't over-think it! As a beginner you want to keep things simple and stick to the fundamentals. Some of the most important fitness fundamentals are choosing activities you enjoy doing, actually doing it, and listening to your body.

Skip the fad diets, the latest must-do fitness class, and any articles promising that they'll help you lose weight from just your belly, thighs or arms. If you're going to lose weight and get fit, you'll have to do it the only way that works. The old-fashioned way. Cut back on calories. Eat a healthy and varied diet so while reducing calories, you're not losing out on vitamins and minerals. And move more. That's all it is right there. Really.

Types of exercise

Strength training or cardio? Which is better? Although it's a common question, it's a false choice. They are entirely different, and achieve totally different outcomes. Cardio improves your cardiovascular fitness and is the main method of burning fat and losing weight. Strength training builds and strengthens your muscles, to make your stronger and improve muscle definition. So whether for health purposes or appearance, both are equally important. Cardiovascular activies include walking, running, cycling, rowing and swimming, as well as exercise classes and DVDs and the very popular cross-trainer (or elliptical machine), plus many more. For strength you could lift weights, use resistance bands, do bodyweight exercises or try Pilates.

Choose activities you enjoy so your workouts never become a bore. If working out becomes a chore, you can bet that it's only a matter of time before you fall off the fitness bandwagon and revert to your previous inactive and unhealthy lifestyle. Choose activities you really enjoy and you are much more likely to stick with them. The best form of exercise in the world won't work unless you actually show up and do it!

Where to work out

While some people like to exercise at a public gym, others would rather work out in the privacy of their own home - it's a personal choice and there are pros and cons to both. 

What to wear

While there is no need to dress to impress, you do need to wear exercise clothes that are comfortable and right for your workout. Ideally, your clothes should be unrestrictive but supportive and layered so you can vent as you heat up. Footwear wise, it depends on the activity you are doing. But as a general rule of thumb, the more impact there is, the more supportive and shock-absorbing your shoes should be.

Pre-exercise snacks

If you want to burn fat, it's okay to exercise on an empty stomach but some people find they can exercise harder and longer after a small meal or snack. Experiment and see what approach works best for you. A banana is a great pre-exercise snack while a donut is not.

Staying hydrated

Exercise causes water loss - both through sweat and exhaled water vapor. This water needs to be replaced; preferably as it's lost. This means you'll need to drink water before, during and after your workout. Ideally, you should be drinking around four pints of water a day plus and extra pint per 30 or so minutes of exercise. If it is especially warm or you are a heavy sweater, you may want to consume more than this. If your goal is weight loss, plain water is best as its calorie free.

Push yourself

You are only as fit as your last workout so if you want to get fitter or stronger, you need to try and work a little bit harder from one week to the next. If you only ever run a mile or lift 10-lbs, that's all your body will be able to do. Slowly but gradually increase the difficulty of your workouts and you'll see your fitness levels improve. Don't, and they'll remain the same and, because your body has adapted to your routine and got stronger, you'll burn fewer calories.

Vary your routine

Avoid exercise boredom and stagnation by varying your routine. If you do the same workout over and over, all that happens is your body gets used to the workout and your fitness improvements stall. Change up your workout schedule every six to eight weeks to avoid getting stuck in an exercise rut.

Lifestyle choices

Working out is only part of the fitness equation. You also need to eat well, get plenty of sleep, minimize stress, skip the cigarettes, watch your alcohol intake, and generally be good to yourself. Exercise is life enhancing but is not a band-aid for an otherwise unhealthy or risky lifestyle. No matter how many miles you run, you can't outrun a bad lifestyle.

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