5 tips to jumpstart your workout routine

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When the holidays come to a close, but our pants don’t, many of us turn our attention to exercise by way of New Year’s resolutions. “Working on my fitness” is a perennial top contender; in fact, it was the reigning resolution champion of the world in 2021 and is trending toward the top spot again.

 

However, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, less than half (46 percent) of fitness resolutioners will successfully maintain their plan of action.

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Now that it’s half-way through the year, many people are realizing that they fall under that category, too. But don’t panic. If you need a full charge or just a little boost, our fitness experts are here with a few easy steps to help you jump-start your fitness.

Step 1: Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure

The heavy breathing and sore muscles are not the only overwhelming factors of exercise. Just figuring out what kind of workouts that you may enjoy can be hard, but if you want long-term success, it is of the utmost importance to actually like the type of exercise that you are doing.

 

Also, if you’ve taken some time away from your fitness routine, you may find that you no longer enjoy the same type of activities that you once did. And that is A-OK. If you loathe every step of running, or if the thought of walking into a gym strikes fear into your heart, it does not mean that you’re destined for a sedentary lifestyle. It’s just that you simply haven’t found the right vibe yet.

 

Here are some questions to help you figure out the best path:

  • Will I thrive in a group setting, or am I a lone wolf?
  • Do I prefer to be outdoors, or is a gym setting right for me?
  • How much time does my schedule realistically allow for exercise?
  • What kind of sports/activities did I enjoy as a kid?
  • If I opt for a gym, how long is the commute?

Use your answers to shape what you do next. If you like to be around other people, research group exercise options near you. If it is hiking that you crave, check out local trails. Set yourself up for success by choosing something you will want to do.

fitness class

Step 2: Create Accountability

Once you have decided on your fitness path of least resistance, it’s time to become accountable. Like fitness, accountability isn’t one-size-fits-all. If announcing your plan to train for your first 5K on Facebook or TikTok is a way to get you to lace up those shiny new running shoes, by all means do it.

 

However, if just the thought of that made you sweat like you had already run those 3.1 miles, don’t fret. We had accountability before we had social media. Here are other ways to hold yourself accountable to your goals:

  • Tell a close circle of friends and ask them if they are willing to check in on your progress
  • Grab a buddy to work out with you
  • Make an accountability chart and put in a place that you will see
  • Invest in a fitness tracker
  • Take progress pictures
  • Treat yourself to small rewards for meeting goals

Accountability, especially to another person, is a crucial aspect of sticking to a fitness plan. Studies have shown that being accountable to someone increases the likelihood of completing the task to a whopping 95 percent.

Step 3: Get Equipped

A solid sweat session can be obtained with nothing more than a few feet of space and a comfy pair of shoes. However, if your goals include gains or being able to spice up your at-home workout, it might be worth investing in the type of equipment that will help you crush your objective.

 

For Beginners: For those new to fitness, the amount of equipment, accessories, and apps can get a little overwhelming. Start small. Add a yoga mat and commit to 10 minutes of stretching, or buy some wearable bangles to add some weighted resistance on your walks.

 

Cardio: If your space and budget allows, the trifecta of cardio equipment, treadmillrowing machine and stationary bike, is some tried and true fitness equipment that will help you pump-up your heart rate and your workout routine.

 

Equipment for Small Spaces: One of the biggest challenges to working out at home is the amount of space that fitness equipment takes up. However, with space-saving equipment, such as adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells, at-home fitnessers are able to workout without having to build an addition on their house to store bulky equipment.

 

Smart Home Gym Equipment: The at-home fitness game has changed thanks to innovative and interactive workout options. Programs such as Future, Tonal and Peloton bring programming, certified trainers and accountability through apps and/or a piece(s) of equipment.

Step 4: Dial in Your Nutrition

Woman making healthy smoothie

When looking to jump-start your fitness, it is important to remember that working out is not the only component. It is also imperative to evaluate your nutrition. This can be especially true after the rest-sugar-and-booze-laden snack-o-rama that is the holiday season.

 

The quality of your nutrition directly affects the quality of your fitness. There are a few simple nutritional rules that you can immediately implement to help charge up your workouts.

  • Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Choose whole, unprocessed foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit sugar and alcohol

Crystal Hochman, certified functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, states, “Good nutrition does not have to be overwhelming. Start with making small changes to your overall diet and then concentrate on staying consistent. Continue to build on your good habits.”

Step 5: Get Some Rest

 

We live in a society that often prides itself on productivity and burning the proverbial candle at both ends. By doing so, we often degrade the role that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall well-being. A consistent seven- to nine-hour sleep schedule will help you jump into your fitness with no distracting yawns.

 

Before you hit the hay, check out these sleep-hacks to ensure that you’re rested up for the following day’s workouts.

  • Put down the phone, tablet and laptop two hours before bedtime
  • Don’t consume caffeine or large meals later in the evening
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
  • Take a relaxing bath or shower
  • Invest in quality mattress, pillow and bedding

“The key component to a good day actually starts the night before. The amount and the quality of sleep that we get affects every aspect of our daily lives, including our exercise routines,” said lung health specialist and exercise physiology expert, Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, MD, FCCP.

 

This article originally appeared on Active.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org

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4 ways to get a good workout without hurting your back

 

Have you ever stood up from a chair hours after a workout or gotten out of bed the morning after exercise to discover a stiff, achy, or painful lower back? Few people can honestly answer no to this question, especially when you consider that lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit healthcare providers and nearly 4 out of 5 people will have it at some point in their lives.

 

Unfortunately, improper form during exercise or overdoing it during a workout is an all-too common way to strain the lower back. Even as a physical therapist, I find myself waking up more often than I’d like with a stiff and achy lower back the morning after a good workout.

 

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If you’re in your 40s or older like me, it’s tempting to blame lower back pain on age. It’s true that the body changes in ways that we don’t like as we get older.

 

But from my experience working with people from across the age spectrum, there are usually more important reasons for post-workout lower back pain than age.

 

The good news is that, unlike age, most of the reasons for lower back pain after a workout are things that you can control. Here are four common reasons your back might hurt after a workout and what you can do about it.

 

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By far the most common reason for lower back pain after a workout is too much forward or backward bending of the spine. Take a look at the people around you the next time you’re at the gym and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Too much forward bending of the spine commonly happens when performing exercises such as deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, sit-ups or crunches. The lower back ends up bending forward too much, making a rounded shape which can strain the lower back muscles and cause too much compression on the spine.

 

Too much backward bending of the spine commonly happens during exercises such as squats, overhead presses or while rowing on a rowing machine. The lower back ends up bending backward too much, making an arched shape, which can also strain the lower back muscles and cause too much compression on the spine.

 

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The lower back should ideally be close to a neutral position without too much forward rounding or backward arching. Most of the bending should come from a hinging motion from the hips.

 

One way to avoid rounding your lower back when bending forward is to stick your butt back as far as it’ll go on your way down, like you’re trying to reach your butt for a chair that’s too far behind you, and to thrust your hips forward on your way up without overextending at the top of the motion.

 

One way to avoid arching your lower back when bending backward is to prevent your chest and hips from thrusting forward at the same time.

Interestingly, you’ll see this simultaneous forward thrusting of the chest and hips with someone who is performing the bench press with too much weight.

 

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Even if there’s not too much forward or backward bending of the spine, you can still strain your lower back if you’re using too much resistance or if you’re performing too many repetitions of an exercise. The body does have a limit and when you exceed that limit, it’ll let you know in a not-so-friendly way.

 

 

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So, avoid going on an extra-long run if you’ve recently gained some weight and maybe you don’t really need to hit the weights after back-to-back cardio kickboxing and spinning classes.

 

When I wake up with a stiff back, it’s usually when I overdo it on the rowing machine trying to achieve a personal record. Sure, I beat my old personal record by 1 second, but now I’m dealing with back issues for the next two days.

 

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Unwanted twisting or side-to-side motions of the trunk can happen while running, biking, swimming, or lifting weights. Twisting and side-to-side motions by themselves are not bad and can be a natural part of a movement that optimizes force production.

 

The problem is when these motions are done when they’re not supposed to be done or overdone when they’re supposed to be done. These then become unwanted motions that can result in lower back pain.

 

For example, you might notice that your trunk motion increases to assist with force production when your arms or legs get fatigued while exercising. Now if you’re observant and you notice that you have a stiff back the next day every time you do this, and you don’t have a stiff back every time you don’t do this, you’ve just figured out the cause of your back pain.

 

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The problem is that unwanted twisting or side-to-side motions of the trunk may be subtle and difficult to spot or the line between wanted and unwanted motions may be hard to distinguish for a novice exerciser. That’s when getting one-on-one feedback from someone who is experienced like a good trainer or a physical therapist can be helpful.

 

One way to overcome this issue without the assistance of a trainer or physical therapist is to engage your core muscles when you start feeling fatigue during exercise. This will prevent unwanted twisting or side-to-side motions of the trunk, which will help you avoid a stiff, achy and painful lower back.

 

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When you stiffen or engage the core muscles, your torso becomes a rigid yet flexible cylinder, like a natural back brace or weightlifting belt, that supports your body and offloads harmful compressive forces from your spine. So, it’s no surprise that a strong core is important for helping to prevent lower back pain.

 

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Exercises such as the side plankfront plank and leg lift and hold are great ways to strengthen your core. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for videos on how to perform these exercises.

 

What is surprising to most people is that having a strong core is not enough. Being able to engage your core muscles on command during exercise is just as important as having a strong core. Check out the episode from Dec 2021 called The Right Way To Engage Your Core to learn how to engage your core the right way.

 

I’ve also published a book recently called 6-Minute Core Strength: Simple Core Exercises to Improve Posture, Build Balance, and Relieve Back Pain which takes you step-by-step through the simple science of building core strength quickly, safely, and effectively, with little or no equipment. Learn more about 6-Minute Core Strength by going to sixminutefitness.com

 

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Let’s put this knowledge to use with a five-day lower back pain prevention challenge! Over the next five days, your challenge is to follow the tips from this episode during your workouts.

 

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

 

This article originally appeared on QuickAndDirtyTips.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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