The majority of people will stop participating in a new gym workout program within the first 90 days which is why health clubs that are packed in January can seem virtually empty by March.
What’s your excuse for not making it to the gym on a consistent basis? Locker room too smelly? Eye candy not sweet enough? Music volume making your ears bleed? Feeling intimidated by buff bodies crowding the free-weight area?
Don’t let your gym workout membership go to waste!
If you’re starting a new exercise program, you’re probably very excited about it, which is great. But that excitement is going to wear off, at which point you’ll begin to notice how much time and effort a workout plan really requires.
And that’s the point where you may be tempted to start pulling back, or even to quit entirely. But we’re not about to let that happen. Follow these steps from the very beginning, and you’ll be one of those dedicated gym workout members who really get their moneys worth.
1. Make gym workouts a key part of your schedule.
Many people see exercise merely as recreation, not a necessity, which means it’s the first thing to go when daily schedules get crunched. YOU NEED TO DECIDE that working out is as important as ANYTHING in your life, even as important as LIFE ITSELF.
If you don’t, as soon as the initial excitement of a new program is over, everything else will get in the way; business appointments, family obligations, TV, sitting on your duff. Write your workout times into your calendar and stick to them just as you would a vital business meeting.
2. Keep it mellow.
You’re a lot more likely to keep your program for the long term if you avoid letting going to the gym workout become a hassle. Choose a gym you can get to in a reasonable amount of time at the time of day you’re going to train.
If you’re fighting gym traffic, you’ll be a lot less motivated. Find a place where you won’t have to line up to use the equipment you want. And unless you’ll be going at the end of the day and can wash up at home, make sure it has clean showers and a comfortable changing environment.
3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Many people often start out too aggressively, going to a level that’s higher than they’re capable of. As a result, they injure their muscle fibers, so for 48 hours they’re walking around like a mummy. Then they stop going to the gym because they find themselves dreading the pain.
Many people don’t realize that long, drawn out workouts is NOT better. You’re not giving your body enough time to recover between workouts. 60 minutes TOPS (if you’re doing a strength and aerobic workout), or about 30 minutes of a strength OR aerobic workout. Make those minutes COUNT! You can still go for gym workout daily as long as you keep your workouts short.
4. Set achievable goals.
It’s inevitable that as you start a new program, you picture yourself looking like the models on TV or in the magazines. But if you set your sights too high, you may find yourself discounting the gains you are making. When you’re starting out, go over your long-term goals with a trainer or coach, and decide what you can achieve based on your workout schedule.
Then, instead of looking far into the future, give yourself intermediate weekly and monthly goals, such as doing an extra rep or lifting 10 more pounds. If you always have new goals to shoot for, it stays interesting.
REMEMBER: You’re not exercising to lose weight. You’re exercising because of HOW YOU’LL FEEL as a RESULT of exercising regularly. You WILL get leaner, you WILL have more energy, you WILL have a higher self-esteem. If you don’t achieve the goals in the time you first set, it’s not the goal that’s wrong. It’s the time frame that was wrong. Keep focused on your goals.
Gains from one workout to the next can be subtle, and the only way to know how well you’re really doing is to write everything down. Keep a journal of your workouts, as well as what you eat. Even people who are diligent don’t remember exactly how well things went if they keep everything in their head.
When you write it down, you can compare results, see what is and isn’t working, and see that as time goes on YOU’RE REALLY MAKING PROGRESS.
6. Mix it up.
Doing the same gym workout over and over again gets old fast, and your results won’t be as good as if you try a variety of exercises. Instead of doing 40 minutes daily on the treadmill, try every darn aerobic machine in the gym and go on hiking, in-line skating and bicycling adventures whenever you get a chance.
Change your weight training routine regularly to keep things interesting and to help break through plateaus. A lack of variety leads to staleness. A good rule of thumb is to change your sets, reps, weight, and rest periods every 3-4 weeks. You’ll have more fun if you learn new tools and keep doing different things.
7. Go one on one.
One reason gym workout can seem less enjoyable than playing sports is that it lacks interplay with others. But there are lots of ways to have some spirited competition in the gym, whether it’s racing >> on treadmills or competing (safely) with your weightlifting buddy. When two guys are on the same regimen, they can make things more fun by having “mini-contests.”
Try going as many reps as you can on a certain weight. Or see who can lift the most weight for 4-5 reps. Just make sure the contest rules specify doing the exercise right, since sacrificing form to lift more weight can be dangerous.
8. Work with a trainer or coach.
Workouts seem easier and are more effective with a professional proddingyou on; plus, you’re more likely to feel obligated to show up (especially if he’s going to charge you anyway). When there’s someone watching you and keeping an eye on your progress, there’s incentive to keep going. If you can’t afford to hire a trainer for every workout, just do it every couple of weeks or once a month and have him/her help you set goals for you to reach in between.
Also, consider getting a training partner – just make sure it’s somebody who will show up every time, is dedicated as you are… in other words, a clone of you.
9. Force yourself to hang in there religiously for the first three months.
Nothing sustains motivation better than results. However, whether you’re a beginner or a competitive bodybuilder, your muscles must be given enough time to adapt to the growth and recovery periods that strength training requires.
Though you may see some results, like increases in strength, early on, noticeable changes in your physique CAN take up to three months. (NOTE: This DOESN’T mean that everyone will take this long to see results. I’ve had clients see results in the first couple of weeks; some waited a few months before things fell into place.)
It also takes that long to establish a rhythm and discipline to your training schedule, but after three months of dedication, you’ll be a lot less likely to fall off the training wagon.
10. As soon as you miss a workout, re-motivate yourself.
This is the danger zone, the time when most people start giving up. You’ve missed one gym workout, so what’s the big deal about skipping another, or all of them? Before you know it, your whole program could go down the tubes. If you miss a workout, you miss a workout. It’s over. You can’t bring it back. So it makes NO sense to beat yourself up about it.
How much exercise is enough? Short answer: It depends.
“How much exercise is enough for what?” asks David Bassett Jr., PhD, a professor of exercises physiology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He explains that, before you make a decision on how much you need, you should have a good idea of your exercise goal or goals: Are you exercising for physical fitness, weight control, or as a way of keeping your stress levels low?
For general health benefits, a routine of daily walking may be sufficient, says Susan Joy, MD, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Sports Medicine Center in Sacramento and team physician for the Sacramento Kings.
If your goal is more specific — say, to lower your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular fitness, or lose weight — you’ll need either more frequent exercises or a higher intensity of exercises.
“The medical literature continues to support the idea that exercise is medicine,” says Jeffrey E. Oken, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician with the Marianjoy Medical Group in Wheaton, Illinois. “Regular exercises can help lower risk of premature death, control your blood pressure, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, combat obesity, improve your lung function, and help treat depression.”
Here, experts break down exactly how much exercises is enough, on the basis of your personal health and fitness goals.
Current Physical Fitness Guidelines for All Adults
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone needs two types of physical activity each week: aerobics and muscle-strengthening activities.
Aerobic activity involves repetitive use of the large muscles to temporarily increase heart rate and respiration. When repeated regularly, aerobic activity improves cardio-respiratory fitness. Running, brisk walking, swimming, and cycling are all forms of aerobic activity.
Muscle-strengthening activities are designed to work one or more muscle groups. All the major muscle groups — legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms — should be worked on two or more days each week, according to federal guidelines. Lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and doing pushups are all are forms of muscle-strengthening activities, according to the CDC.
Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activities. If activity is more vigorous in intensity, 75 minutes a week may be enough. For even greater health benefits, though, more activity is better: 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a mix of the two, says the CDC.
It’s best to be active throughout the week, rather than concentrating all your physical activity in one day. That means aim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercises, five days a week. You can break it up into even smaller chunks, too: three brief periods of physical activity a day, for example. In order for it to be effective in improving health and fitness, the CDC says you need to sustain the activity for at least 10 minutes at a time.
How Much Exercise Do You Need to Lose Weight or Maintain Weight Loss?
Research consistently shows that, to lose weight, integrating exercises into your routine helps. For example, in one study published in the journal Obesity, women who both dieted and exercised lost more weight than those who only dieted.
If you’re trying to control your weight through exercises, however, the general activity guidelines provided by the CDC might not be sufficient; you’re likely going to need to devote some extra time to exercises.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 150 to 250 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity yields only modest weight-loss results, and to lose a significant amount of weight, you may need to perform moderate-intensity exercises more than 250 minutes per week (in addition to dietary intervention). So how much exercises do you need in a day? That equates to about one hour, five days per week.
Meanwhile, the CDC suggests that, if you increase your intensity, you can reap similar weight-control benefits in about half the time. For example, in one study published in January 2017 in the Journal of Diabetes Research, women who performed high-intensity interval exercise lost the same amount of weight and body fat compared with those who performed moderate-intensity cardio, but they did it while exercising for significantly less time.
It’s important to remember that once you hit your weight-loss goals, you need to continue exercising to make sure you don’t regain the weight. A study published in August 2015 in theJournal of Primary Prevention that analyzed data from 81 studies investigating the role of exercise in weight management found that one of the biggest ways exercise helps with weight management is by preventing weight gain (perhaps even more than it helps you lose weight).
The ACSM recommends performing more than 250 minutes of exercise per week to prevent weight regain.
To both lose weight and prevent weight regain, the ACSM recommends performing strength-training exercises to increase the body’s levels of fat-free mass, which improves metabolic rate. That’s why, when Harvard researchers followed 10,500 men over the course of 12 years, those who performed 20 minutes of strength training per day gained less abdominal fat compared with those who spent the same amount of time performing cardiovascular exercise, according to data published in the February 2015 issue of the journal Obesity.
How Much Exercise Do You Need to Improve Cardiovascular Health?
Fortunately for anyone trying to improve their heart health, a little bit of exercise goes a long way.
For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends performing at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week. (7) Other research shows that aerobic exercise is the most efficient form of exercise for improving measures of cardiometabolic health, including insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and blood pressure.
AHA recommends performing strengthening activities at least two days per week to help preserve and build lean muscle.
However, if you are actively trying to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, the AHA advises upping your exercise time and intensity to an average of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-cardiovascular activity three to four times per week. Before engaging in high-intensity exercise, especially if you have a history of heart issues, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what intensity of exercise is safe for you, Dr. Oken says.
And, again, remember that it’s okay to work up to your target exercise levels. No matter what your goals are, some exercise is always going to be more beneficial than none. Small steps sometimes lead to the biggest gains.
Feel younger, live longer. It’s no slogan — these are actual benefits of regular exercise. People with high levels of physical fitness are at lower risk of dying from a variety of causes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Physical Fitness: What the Benefits of Exercise Mean for You
There’s more good news. Research also shows that exercise enhances sleep, prevents weight gain, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.
“One study found that when breast cancer survivors engaged in exercise, there were marked improvements in physical activity, strength, maintaining weight, and social well-being,” explains Rachel Permuth-Levine, PhD, deputy director for the Office of Strategic and Innovative Programs at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.Read about Physical Fitness Protects Brain Health.
“Another study looked at patients with stable heart failure and determined that exercise relieves symptoms, improves quality of life, reduces hospitalization, and in some cases, reduces the risk of death,” adds Dr. Permuth-Levine. She points out that exercise isn’t just important for people who are already living with health conditions: “If we can see benefits of moderate exercise in people who are recovering from disease, we might see even greater benefits in those of us who are generally well.”
Physical Fitness: Exercise Basics
Physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to produce results. Even moderate exercise five to six times a week can lead to lasting health benefits.
When incorporating more physical activity into your life, remember three simple guidelines:
Exercise at moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes spread over the course of each week.
Avoid periods of inactivity; some exercise at any level of intensity is better than none.
At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise (cardio) with weight-bearing activities that strengthen all major muscle groups.
Physical Fitness: Making Exercise a Habit
The number one reason most people say they don’t exercise is lack of time. If you find it difficult to fit extended periods of exercise into your schedule, keep in mind that short bouts of physical activity in 10-minute segments will nonetheless help you achieve health benefits. Advises Permuth-Levine, “Even in the absence of weight loss, relatively brief periods of exercise every day reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Set realistic goals and take small steps to fit more movement into your daily life, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to the grocery store instead of driving. “The key is to start gradually and be prepared,” says Permuth-Levine. “Have your shoes, pedometer, and music ready so you don’t have any excuses.”
To help you stick with your new exercise habit, vary your routine, like swimming one day and walking the next. Get out and start a baseball or soccer game with your kids. Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, have a plan B — use an exercise bike in your home, scope out exercise equipment at a nearby community center, or consider joining a health club. The trick is to get to the point where you look at exercise like brushing your teeth and getting enough sleep — as essential to your well-being.
Remember that physical fitness is attainable. Even with small changes, you can reap big rewards that will pay off for years to come.
Women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90% less likely to develop dementia decades later, compared with women who were moderately fit, according to a study published this spring in an online issue of the journal Neurology®. The study measured the women’s cardiovascular fitness based on an exercise test.
When the highly fit women did develop dementia, they developed the disease an average of 11 years later than women who were moderately fit or concerned with physical fitness, or at age 90 instead of age 79.
“These findings are exciting because it’s possible that improving people’s cardiovascular fitness in middle age could delay or even prevent them from developing dementia,” said study author Helena Hörder, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden. “However, this study does not show cause and effect between cardiovascular fitness and dementia; it only shows an association. More research is needed to see if improved fitness could have a positive effect on the risk of dementia and also to look at when during a lifetime a high fitness level is most important.” Read about 8 Reasons Why You Should Hit The Gym.
For the study, 191 women with an average age of 50 took a bicycle exercise test until they were exhausted to measure their peak cardiovascular capacity. The average peak workload was measured at 103 watts. A total of 40 women met the criteria for high fitness, or 120 watts or higher; 92 women were in the medium-fitness category; and 59 women were in the low-fitness category. For women with low physical fitness, peak workload was 80 watts or less, or the exercise tests had to stop because of high blood pressure, chest pain or other cardiovascular problems.
Over the next 44 years, the women were tested for dementia six times. During that time, 44 of the women developed the disease. Five percent of the highly fit women developed dementia, compared with 25% of moderately fit women and 32% of the women with low fitness. The highly fit women were 88% less likely to develop dementia than the moderately fit women.
Fitness Level on Test
could not finish test
Among the women who had to stop the exercise test because of problems, 45% developed dementia decades later. “This indicates that negative cardiovascular processes may be happening in midlife that could increase the risk of dementia much later in life,” Hörder said.Read about Beating The Blues With Exercise.
Limitations of the study include the relatively small number of women involved, all of whom were from Sweden, so the results may not be applicable to other populations, Hörder said. Also, each woman’s fitness level was measured only once, so any changes in fitness over time were not captured.
We’ve all started a new year off with a fitness resolution haven’t we? “This year I’m going to get fitter” or “This year I’m going to exercise more”. But saying it and doing it are two different things! So, Hitting the Gym is a must today!
56% of Australian adults are either inactive or have low levels of physical activity – that’s more than 9.5 million adults. Don’t become part of that statistic – if you need a little help to take action on your resolution, read the top 8 reasons to join a gym and get moving.
It’s clear, but we’ll mention it anyway – going to the gym is good for your health and fitness! Put simply, during exercise we increase our cardiovascular fitness through strengthening our heart and lungs and we increase our strength through creating lean muscle. The Australian Government Department of Health recommends five hours of moderate exercise per week, including muscle strengthening activities at least twice per week.
Studies show that regular exercise and an increase in strength and cardio fitness levels can help reduce the risk of health concerns and diseases, including:
High blood pressure
Diabetes (type II)
Stress related illnesses
2. Access to equipment
One of the big advantages of joining a gym is the wide array of equipment available, including cardio machines, strength machines, weights, boxing kits and various functional training gear (TRX, fit balls, resistance bands etc). It might be intimidating at first, but you’ll find friendly experts on hand to help you use it all. Trust us – it’s all a lot simpler than it looks!
3. Make friends
The gym is a great way to be social and meet like-minded people. Group fitness classes will help you work towards your goals and are a fun way to make friends. You might find someone who loves Body Pump just as much as you! Once you connect with someone at your fitness level and appoint them as your official training buddy, you’ll be able to team up and try these partner workouts for maximum results.
4. Access to knowledge
Gym Clubs have qualified, experienced personal trainers (many with health and sports-related degrees) on hand who can advise you on the best exercises and workouts for reaching your goals. They can give you individualised direction for your workouts in the gym, keeping you safe and motivating you along the way too. Read about The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
5. Establish a healthy routine
One of the hurdles in committing to a gym membership is justifying the cost and how much you will use it. It’s easy to establish a healthy routine with a gym membership when you have the use of facilities regardless of rain, hail or shine outside. There’s no soggy ground to worry about, no dogs to hurdle when running and no risk of heat exhaustion on summer days. So flip that financial hurdle into a motivator, establish a routine and you’ll create a new healthy habit well worth the investment in no time.
6. Increased energy levels
One of the side effects of exercise is an increase in energy levels and enhanced mood, due to the release of natural, happy endorphins. There’s no better feeling than leaving the gym after a workout feeling energised and ready for whatever the day throws at you. If you’re looking for an extra spring in your step, it’s a great benefit of joining a gym!
7. Be challenged
If you’re looking for a fitness challenge, look no further! The Goodlife 12 Week Challenge and shorter 8 Week Challenge both offer a targeted exercise and nutrition program to help you achieve long-term and life-changing results. Goodlife gyms also have one of the biggest group fitness class offerings including 30 minute functional workout class – Emily Skye Ignite and the latest fitness trend fusing Pilates, yoga and dance – Bootybarre.
8. Be motivated
You either love exercise or you have to drag yourself along to get it done! If you’re one of the latter, heading to the gym and being around others who are in the same situation as you can be just the incentive and motivation you need to keep going. You might even find yourself converting into an exercise lover when you’re heading to the gym on a more regular basis, hitting your fitness goals and seeing results on the inside and out!To keep motivated, Read 10 Steps To Help You Avoid Losing The Thrill On Gym.
Now scientists are studying the link between exercise and mood changes at close range and coming up with some fascinating results.
One expert in the field says “exercise is clearly associated with mental-health benefits.” And moderate exercisers show lowered blood-pressure levels and a resultant positive mood. The key is moderate exercise, performed a minimum of 30 minutes, three or four times a week. Brisk walking, swimming, lifting weights, and bicycling – all achieve good results.
People who exercise regularly, even at something as simple as walking or bicycling, are more flexible. They experience less stress on the muscles and joints when they do bend down the wrong way. Conditioned muscles recover faster, too. It’s the couch potato who hauls himself erect one Saturday afternoon to rake the leaves or shovel snow who has trouble.
The big problem we all face these days is living a stressful life. All families seem to be too busy to sit down together and share the joys and pleasures of life. The little things that once mattered are no longer important and now there is a race for more money, more time and more material possessions. Read about How to achieve happiness.
By using simple relaxation techniques, exercising and making changes in our lifestyles, we can manage stress and take control of your lives! Once you have become aware of stress, it’s time to relax! There are many techniques for relaxing (and no one method is better than another), but the most basic is deep breathing. One of the body’s automatic reactions to stress is rapid, shallow breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply is one of the ways you can “turn off” your stress reaction and “turn on” your relaxation response.
Still another relaxation technique that can help you reduce stress is “clearing your mind.” Since your stress response is a physical and emotional interaction, giving yourself a mental “break” can help relax your body as well. When you clear your mind, you try to concentrate on one pleasant thought, work, or image and let the rest of your worries slip away. A short and quiet walk can do wonders and just a walk around the block will clear your head and often give you a new spurt of energy.
Muscle and joint aches and pains are a common complaint for many of us, living as we do in a sedentary, high-stress society. The cliché warning us to “use it or lose it” isn’t far off the mark. Our bodies pay the price for long hours slumped at our desks or nestled in a soft chair watching television. And if you think some of our aches and pains are just another consequence of ageing, you’re wrong – more often, it’s a result of inactivity and weaker muscles. Read about How to be happy – Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
Doctors now say that walking is one of the best exercises. It helps the total circulation of blood throughout the body, and thus has a direct effect on your overall feeling of health. There are things such a aerobics, jogging, swimming and many other exercises which will benefit a person both physically and mentally. Researchers agree that exercise helps to ease anxiety and lift spirits.
It’s is a 70-year-old exercise technique first developed by German immigrant, Joseph Pilates. Only recently has it migrated from its long-held position at the fringes of traditional fitness methods such as aerobics and weight training. Hollywood has been a key factor in turning the spotlight on pilates exercise, as numerous models and actresses pay homage to Pilates for their beautifully toned, fit bodies.
Focusing on the Core
The abdominal and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body’s core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition, the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility, and build strength.
How can one exercise technique claim to do so much?
The Reformer, a wooden contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily using one’s own body weight as resistance, participants are put through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite the appearance of this, and several other equally unusual-looking devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact. Instructors, who typically work one-on-one or with two to three participants, offer reminders to engage the abdominal muscles, the back, the upper leg and buttocks to stabilize the body’s core. Exercise sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and strength limitations.
Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized machines, however. In fact, many gyms across the country now offer Pilates floor-work classes. These exercises also stress the stabilization and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles.
Connecting with Pilates
The mind/body connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes of motion.
So, what will all this focus and stabilization get you?
Well, according to its adherents, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve posture. Of course, these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such as a well-balanced diet and regular, aerobic exercise. (Though some may claim that Pilates exercise is all you need to develop stamina and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component may be advisable.)
An initial Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows the instructor to pinpoint strength and flexibility weak spots. This is the time to become familiar with Pilates’ unique breathing patterns, which don’t always follow the exhale-on-the-exertion pattern of traditional exercise. Sessions typically run 60 minutes, at a cost of $30 to $50 for private sessions, and $8 to $25 for group sessions.
If you’re more comfortable exercising at home, there are several Pilates and Pilates-type videos available, including the Fit & Flexible series, and The Method Precision series. Several home versions of the Reformer also are currently available on the market.
Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor, Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve flexibility and incorporate the mind/ body element into one effective exercise session.