Physical activity can help you live longer and lower your risk for chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. With only 30-60 minutes a day for 3-5 times a week you can live longer, be healthier, and have a more fit body to handle life’s daily physical challenges. Here are 7 tips to keep you moving and make the most of your exercise routine.

1. Begin with a warm-up and then stretching.

A warm-up loosens muscles and joints. Take the time to do a light warm up such as a light jog, dynamic stretching such as walking high knees, jumping jacks, lunges, walking stairs, etc… Warming up prior to stretching and working out raises your total body and muscle temperatures to prepare for the demands of activity and avoid injury.

Once you feel your heart rate slightly elevated and your muscles feel looser you can now take the time to stretch your muscles. While it is good practice to stretch as many muscles as you can, dedicate extra time to stretch the muscles that you plan to give the most attention in that workout. If you plan to do workouts with running or jumping pay close attention to stretching out your calf, quad, and hamstring muscles.

2. Slow and steady progress and listening to your body is key.

Make sure that when you start any new exercise regimen or resume one after a hiatus you begin slowly and do not try to overdue yourself. While you may feel like you can handle more work or as much as you may have been able to do at one point in your life, your body can take 2-3 weeks of a regular schedule of working out to begin to get use to working out. Many people overdue it on their first couple of workouts which can lead to extreme soreness, cramps, pulled/strained muscles, and fatigue.

Stop what you’re doing if you feel pain. Achy muscles are common a day or two after exercise, especially as you start a new routine or increase intensity. But see your doctor if your pain is severe or lasts longer than a couple of days.

3. Take time to cool down.

After exercise, cool down, stretch and allow your heart rate to slow to its normal state. This may include walking, light calisthenics or gentle stretching similar to your warm up but on an easier scale. This routine will help you become more limber and flexible as well as help prevent soreness and cramping in the days following your workout.

4. Mix up your routine.

By varying your routine, you reduce the risk of overuse injuries, including muscle strains, tendonitis and stress fractures as well as increase your all-around fitness. While many people may love one aspect of a specific type of exercise, you should try to use all of your muscle groups throughout the week in your workouts. This means you can vary things in your workout such as running/walking, swimming, biking, strength training and weights, as well as the variance of your workout in the distance, time, weight, and reps. By varying the type of workouts as well as the distance, time, weight, and reps you can workout your entire body to make your entire body healthier and more fit.

5. Track your results.

The only way to know how far we have come is to know where you start. Track your workout results such as how long it took you to run a certain distance, how much you were able to lift, how long you were able to run before you had to walk, etc… This is the main tool we can easily use to compare how far you have come from before you started. Many people tend to get better results with time, but they may not necessarily see the immediate result in the mirror. Compare your current workouts to your past workouts and hopefully with the consistency and determination you will see an increase in output that will give you the self-confidence to keep up the great work.

While there are many computer systems and apps built to easily store data to compare workouts, a notepad and pencil works best for many people. You can easily write down the workout you completed, the results of your workout, as well as any notes from the workout you may want to read when comparing to another date.

6. Workout in a group setting.

Finding others to workout with in a group setting will help motivate you not only in your specific workout that day, but also lead to encourage you to continue your workouts in the future. Workouts with groups also tend to be more fun since you are able to socialize with each other before and after the workout. Having other there will also give you the community to discuss your workouts and cheer each other on to achieve their fitness goals. It will also spur the competitive spirit in you to try and run faster, jump higher, or lift more than your counter parts.

7. Do what you love.

While it is great for your body to mix up routines and try different types of workouts, you need to find types of workouts that you love to do. There are hundreds of different types of workout routines you can follow from personal trainers, online routines, workout apps, DVD’s, and gyms that offer group classes that vary their workouts daily. You will always stick with routines and try harder doing them if you thoroughly enjoy doing them which will result in better results and a longer, healthier life.


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