The Independence Day celebration really got me thinking. There were remarks about where Nigeria is compared to, where we planned and hoped we would be by now, and remarks (some positive, but mostly negative) about why we should or should not be celebrating our 50th. And I started to think. The point of trying to stay healthy and fit is not only to look good, but to prevent disease. So at 50, what would I hope to be celebrating? What would I have hoped to achieve in terms of my health?
Look around you and you’d see a clear indication of what you have waiting for you in the future. When you see the 50 year olds in your family, is that a picture of what you want to be like when you grow older? Health-wise, fitness-wise, and even happiness-wise? If your answer is a complete resounding YES, then all you have to do is follow in their footsteps. If you have some things you’d like to change, then here’s your chance to do something about it.
Okay, that was my inspirational sentimental message of the day. I’d love your feedback on what you’d like to look like, feel like, and just be like at 50.
Now, on to my point, since we’re celebrating 50 years, I thought it would be fun to give you 50 fitness tips to incorporate into your exercise and nutrition regimen. Here goes!
1. Don’t work your abs every day. Leave at least a day between strength training days because your muscles need time to rest.
2. Extra long workouts may actually be hurting you rather than helping you because when your body starts to tire, muscles take longer to build.
3. When doing sit-ups realize that you also need to do cardio to get those rock hard abs.
4. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST. It reduces snacking during the day.
5. Swimming is one of the best overall body workouts. If you can swim, get in the pool frequently.
6. Make sure your workout shoes are comfortable. Shop for your shoes in the evening because that’s when your feet feel the largest.
7. If you’re too busy to work out, fit small portions of exercise into your day.
8. The best way to stay fit and make it fun is to play a sport. Play some football or basketball with your friends this weekend.
9. You BMI is a very important number. More important than just the number on the scale. Find out your BMI and what you could be at risk for.
10. You don’t get cancer from standing in front of the microwave. That’s a myth.
11. Don’t stand in the corner when you’re at the club. Dancing burns calories too!
12. Because a certain food seems light doesn’t mean it is healthy. Be conscious of what you eat.
13. If you’re interested in rock climbing, do some pull-ups to build your upper arm strength first.
14. To build muscle, you need lots of protein. Protein supplements are important to give you the amount you need.
15. Try different exercises. Don’t stick to the regular weight lifting and sit-ups only.
16. Weigh yourself at the same time of the day every time to accurately reflect weight loss. We tend to have different weights at different times of the day.
17. When you’re sick, your body uses your energy to heal, not to build muscle or lose weight. So rest when you’re sick rather than work out.
18. Don’t lean on the treadmill when running. When your posture is not right, your workout is not optimized.
19. Work out close to home. When you don’t have to travel for a workout, you are more likely to stick to it.
20. Stretching your muscles helps reduce the pain you feel the day after strenuous workouts.
21. When cycling on a stationary bike, do not make the resistance level too high and over-strain your knees.
22. Your body needs exercise breaks. Just as you like to take some time off work, take a few days off exercise to relax.
23. Milk has a lot of protein so drink low-fat milk after exercise to build your muscles.
24. Hold your abs and butt muscles tight while doing any exercise. This helps you do double duty.
25. Interval training helps burn fat faster because your body does not get accustomed to one speed. So run fast for a minute and slow for a minute continuously.
26. To maintain good posture and get the pressure off of your lower back, sleep on your back rather than your stomach. Sleeping on the stomach is only good for babies, to protect their heads.
27. Lifting light weights quickly is almost as effective as lifting heavier weights slowly if you’re building your strength and muscle tone.
28. For abs exercises, also try to lift your pelvis off the floor as you do them. This helps you isolate your ab muscles.
29. When doing sit-ups, try to keep your elbows wide open, not in front of your face. And your fingers should only be touching the back of your head, not pushing your head. This helps you not to force your neck forward.
30. Sit-ups are not the only way to work your abs. You can work your abs with pushups, squats, lunges, and planks. Just make sure your posture is right.
31. Make sure you are doing the entire range of motion when you lift weights or do aerobics. Doing moves only halfway would not have the desired effect.
32. Breathing is very important when you exercise! So many people don’t realize that they may be holding their breath for a few seconds at a time.
33. Replace your running shoes about once a year to reduce the negative impact of running on your knees.
34. It takes about 21 days to build a habit. So if you think you can’t spend a significant amount of time working out, try doing 15 minutes a day for 21 days and increase it from there.
35. Organic may not always mean healthier. Pay attention to the nutrition information of the things you buy. And when in doubt, Google is your friend.
36. Nutrition is just as important as exercise. If you keep exercising consistently and don’t see results, now you know why.
37. You may be eating right, but watch your liquid intake as well. Two Cokes or beers a day can wreck your whole workout plan.
38. Mix up your strength training between machines and free weights. Because of the different postures required, machines and free weights tend to work on different muscles.
39. People tend to think that all you need is protein after a workout. No, you need some carbs as well to replenish lost energy.
40. Don’t just work on your abs; work on your lower back as well. A strong lower back helps us do abs exercises better.
41. Working out with a friend usually helps both parties stick to a routine and increase the competition. So buy your buddy a gym membership for his/her next birthday!
42. Always keep your body adequately hydrated, especially if you work out regularly. We lose a lot of water by sweating.
43. Exercise does not only improve your body. It improves your brain function as well. So if you find that you’re losing your quick wit, maybe you need to get on a bike.
44. Walking or running with weights can actually damage your posture, your ankles and your knees. Do your cardio separately, and then work with the weights separately.
45. Stretch only after you have worked out. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury. The only exception is when playing sports, but then you should still only stretch after you have warmed up.
46. Always warm up to get the oxygen and blood flowing so you don’t raise your heart rate too quickly.
47. Try to replace a portion of your meal with vegetables like spinach, Brussels sprouts, or carrots. This helps you to include vegetables in your diet without eliminating everything you love.
48. Do not stock your cabinet with convenient unhealthy foods because when you’re bored, that’s the first thing you’d reach for.
49. If you lose weight too fast, it can have a negative impact on your health. Work your way slowly.
50. Portion control is the best diet tip anyone can give you. You don’t have to eat it all in one sitting. Reserve some of that goodness for later.
There you have it! If you have any more tips to share, we’d love to hear them.
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