Exercise

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Fitness

Incorporating a fitness program into your lifestyle can really set your weight loss on the right track.

It’s important to be smart with your nutrition, not only for your health but also to give your body sufficient fuel and nutrients for optimal performance during your exercise regime. The benefits of exercise include increased muscle tone and definition, weight loss, increased energy and improved mood, better cardiovascular fitness as well as disease prevention, and remember: any exercise is better than no exercise. Below are some of the best ways to get your heart pumping, burn fat and target problem areas.

FATBURNING

Getting into your best possible shape will require some aerobic activity.

Aerobic activities constitute any form of exercise done at moderate intensity that is repetitive, long and hard enough to challenge the heart and lungs - and it requires fat to be used as the primary fuel source. Aim to keep your heart rate at approximately 50 - 65% of maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate: 220 - your age Examples of these types of exercises are:

Running

Running

Cycling

Cycling

Swimming

Swimming

Walking

Walking

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Mix up your cardio workouts to incorporate all of the above. Try to take on 5 sessions a week, with each session being a minimum of 30 minutes.

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To increase intensity, try interval training. This involves walking briskly to maintain a higher heart rate for 5 minutes then jogging for 5 minutes, and alternating for the duration of your 30 minute session.

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If you prefer working out in a gym, run to your local gym and use that as a warm up - it will get you revved up to train hard when you arrive.

TONING

While cardio is important for fat burning, building your lean muscle also has many benefits.

Gaining muscle by lifting weights actually helps your body to burn fat; it increases the body's metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories throughout the day. This aids significantly in long term weight management. But that’s not the only benefit to toning up! Weight training also helps:

  • strengthen the heart, allowing it to beat more efficiently, which is also a cardio benefit
  • increase bone density to help prevent osteoporosis
  • make your balance sturdier to decrease the risk of falls or accidents
  • prevent injuries
  • improve posture

Strengthening exercises include:

SQUATS

For strong, toned legs

Works quadriceps and gluteals (3 muscles that give you a toned butt): Hold a set of 5kg weights by your side. Stand with feet hip width apart. Bend the knees and lower into a squat, sliding the weights down by your side. Keep your knees behind your toes. Stop when your knees are at 90-degree angles or before you lose the natural arch of your back. At the bottom of the movement, make sure you take your hips back, as though you're about to sit in a chair. Contract the butt and legs while stabilising your body with a strong torso. Slowly stand back up without locking the knees. Do 10 -16 repetitions for 1-3 sets.

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Upright row

For this exercise, you can use a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbells, or even a cable machine or resistance band. Stand up straight with your feet in line with your hips. Fold your hands over to hold your chosen equipment. To work your shoulders or deltoids, hold a wide grip. To work your upper back, hold a narrow grip. Lift straight up to your collarbone with a controlled movement, then bring the weight down. Repeat 6-10 times for 1-3 sets.

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Seated twist

Seated twist for abdominals and obliques: Holding a dumbbell in both hands, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt. Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important to keep your back straight. Twist slowly to the left, bringing the weight to your left side. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through centre, and rotate to the right. This completes one repetition. Do 16 full repetitions for 1-3 sets.

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If you’ve never lifted or owned weights, don’t be disheartened - simply try bodyweight training.

Below are some tips to get your bodyweight training started:

The inchworm

Keeping your legs straight, stand tall then slowly let your fingertips hit the floor. Keeping the legs straight (but not locked!), slowly lower the torso toward the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps so the feet meet the hands. Repeat 4-6 times.

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The plank-to-push-up

Start in a plank position with forearms on the floor, legs extended and up on the toes. Place down one hand at a time to lift up into a push-up position, with the back straight and the core engaged. Then move one arm at a time back into the plank position (forearms on the ground). Repeat, alternating the arm that makes the first move, 6 times on each side for 1-3 sets.

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The burpee

This full-body exercise is very effective. Start in a low squat position with hands on the floor then kick the feet back to a push-up position. Complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into a push-up position. Do 4-8 repetitions for 1-3 sets.

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Training first thing in the morning is not only a great way to wake you up, but no matter what else happens in your day, at least your workout is done.

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You don’t need to be in the gym any longer than 45 minutes if you train smart. Get in and get out - but when you're in there, make sure you get that intensity right up.

Gentle

If you’re unable to take part in strenuous or intensive exercise, due to injury or ill health, make sure you talk to your healthcare practitioner before considering any fitness regime.

Here are some gentle exercise ideas to try:​

Walking

Walking is a very popular low-impact exercise. Try walking up the street or around the block a couple of times to work the cardiovascular system and burn calories.

Yoga

Yoga uses a series of postures and breathing exercises to improve both your physical fitness and your general wellbeing. Try this mood-lifting practice to help develop strength, balance and flexibility.

Water aerobics

Water aerobics requires a basic swimming ability as it's mostly done in water that's waist high or deeper. The workouts use a variety of techniques including walking or running backwards and forwards, jumping jacks, various arm movements, and moves from cross-country skiing.

Exercise bands

Exercise bands are a great investment for rehabilitation and sports injuries. Light bands are ideal for wrist and arm exercises whilst the heavy exercise bands are better for large muscle groups such as the legs and back.

Make ‘active’ your lifestyle

Fitness doesn’t always have to follow a rigid schedule.

Fitness doesn’t always have to follow a rigid schedule. Incidental fitness can be the best kind of fitness. Going for a walk with your partner, playing sport with your mates, going snorkelling; these are just a handful of 'incidental' fitness activities that you can do every week.

Just because you're enjoying the activity doesn't mean it's not good for your mind, body and health. For a start, you're more likely to try harder and apply yourself more vigorously to activities you enjoy. Remember to have fun with your fitness and your body!

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Surround yourself with motivated people who eat well and train often and you will find yourself doing similar things.

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Make sure to spend at least 5 minutes stretching post workout. Not only is this good for your muscles, but it also gives you 5 minutes to reflect on your workout and what you have

Log your results

Who doesn’t love feeling a sense of achievement?

Tracking your progress in a daily log book helps keep you accountable and on top of your results. By measuring your improvements, you're able to look back at where you've come from and make the necessary changes to continue to improve. However, it’s important not to measure and weigh yourself too often. Schedule in measurements once-a-week or once-a-month; this will ensure your results are accurate. Consider that the only place that is likely to show measured changes week-to-week is the waistline, whereas gaining muscle mass can have dramatic results in the way you look but may add to your weight as the same volume of muscle weighs more than that of fat.