Unfortunately there is no magic potion when it comes to getting fit. Improving your health and fitness comes as the result of proper nutrition and a good exercise plan.
The good news is that by doing the right things we can speed up the process, make it sustainable and enjoy ourselves along the way.
There are, however, some key things we need to do in order to get the results that we desire. Below we list 8 simple tips to follow.
1. Do Something You Enjoy
The key to seeing results from any exercise programme is consistency. In the early stages of getting fit, we rely so much on motivation to get started, it is vital that we enjoy what we are doing. If we don't, the temptation to skip a class or to quit completely can be overwhelming. By making exercise enjoyable, we are not only more likely to make it part of our routine, we are also going to put more effort into our training.
Join a sports team, take up a martial art that you've been wanting to try, or go out biking. Whatever you decide on, make sure that you enjoy the process and you are much more likely to stick with it.
Making the correct lifestyle choices and managing stress are very important to our overall health and wellbeing. Limit alcohol consumption, don't smoke and get the right amount of sleep to see the true benefits of your exercise plan. Burning the candle at both ends will only store up problems further down the road.
Include meditation, mindfulness, yoga or some other form of stress release to increase physical and mental wellbeing. You will reap the rewards of this as your fitness and energy levels rise and physical and mental tension subside.
3. Be Accountable
Set yourself a fitness target or targets and tell people about them. Better still find an accountability partner. Someone who can train with you and hold your feet to the flames.
Accountability can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to achieving long term fitness goals, and in the short-term may just give you the motivation you need. Make sure whoever you choose will be supportive and encouraging and ideally someone who is achieving or has achieved the results you are looking for.
Nutrition is as important as exercise when it comes to getting fit. As the old saying goes, 'you can't out-train a poor diet'. Avoid too much sugar and eat a balanced and healthy diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is also important to eat regularly. You should aim for every 2.5 - 3 hours. By revving up your metabolism this will encourage more rapid fat loss as well as keeping our minds and bodies fuelled for the day.
5. Drink Enough Water
Water is vital for our bodies to function properly. As well as helping to flush out waste, it improves complexion, promotes weight loss and can have a significant impact on how we perform both physically and mentally. Indeed exercise performance can be impaired when we become dehydrated by as little as 2% body weight.
Drinking between two - two and a half litres of water a day will also ensure we have the energy required to achieve our fitness and life goals.
It is very important that we allow our bodies to recover after we carry out any physical exertion. It is common for even the fittest and most experienced athletes to feel aches and pains after training. For anyone starting out, or getting back into shape however, it is even more important that we listen to our bodies and get the appropriate amount of rest.
Schedule time to relax and recharge. This can either be done by having a day off, or some form of active recovery (lighter activity such as a brisk walk or swimming session). This will help us to recover and also help to ensure that we can keep training by preventing injury and keeping motivation levels up.
Sauna or steam room sessions can also help to ease aching muscles and are a little reward for all the hard work!
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) seems to be a buzz word at the moment and with good reason. The idea behind it, is short periods of high intensity exercise with short active rest periods in between.
The benefits of this type of exercise are varied and numerous. They include burning calories long after the exercise has finished, increased HGH production, boosted metabolism and loss of fat without losing muscle. Once you have built a base level of fitness, think about introducing this to accelerate your progress.
8. Train Strength and Cardio
To build a good level of all round fitness we need to consider both strength and cardio training. Your area of focus will often come down to personal choice and your own fitness goals. We should, though, be mindful of each as they both have a part to play. It would be a mistake to neglect one or the other completely!
Aerobic exercise will generally improve overall fitness by conditioning the heart and lungs and this is usually a good place to start. As your level of fitness improves you should start to think about adding some strength work. Assess your long term goals and adjust your workouts accordingly. Usually a mix of the two with a bias towards one or other is the way to go, but this depends very much on yourself. Research and come up with a plan that is sustainable and in tune with your long term vision.
Most of all enjoy the process and the results will follow!