Today, more than 57 million Americans have memberships to fitness centers and health clubs – an increase of 75% since 2000.
That’s good news, but does it mean that a growing number of Americans are becoming healthy and fit? Not necessarily.
Workouts often don’t work out. If you’re spending a significant amount of time working out and you’re not achieving your fitness goals, you’re likely to give up at some point.
How can you ensure that your workouts are having the desired impact?
Put some “work” into your workout. Many people sit at a desk all day, spend an hour or two commuting, and then relax in front of the TV at night. For someone who spends most waking hours sitting, taking three spin classes a week (more sitting) is not enough.
Rather than adding more spin classes, though, try something different. Even the most dedicated gym rat tends to stick to what he or she likes to do most at the gym. Runners run. Weight lifters lift weights.
A comprehensive exercise routine should include cardio exercise, strength training, stretching and core strengthening, which affects muscles that are essential to your well-being, but don’t typically receive much attention. Core exercise is especially important, as a strong core provides the foundation for your entire body.
It’s often best to focus on what you like least. It may be more difficult, but working out is supposed to be work. That’s why it’s called a “workout.” Over time, you will become accustomed to the routine and will improve. You’ll likely find that the exercise you once avoided isn’t so bad after all.
Whatever exercise you’re getting is better than doing nothing, but if you’re truly looking to change your life and improve your health, it may take more.
If you don’t have time, incorporate movement into everything you do. Walk more, sit on a balance ball and practice keeping your body aligned even when you’re standing still.
Learn the right form. Bad form is bad for you. If you have the wrong form when you exercise, you may injure yourself. An injury will sideline you for weeks or even months. As you’ll be more sedentary during your recovery, except for physical therapy, when you return to working out, you’ll have to start all over again.
Even among those who work out regularly, bad form is rampant. Most people recognize that they need to maintain their body, but they don’t understand how to move properly.
Good posture and a strong core can reduce friction in the body and improve the results of strength training. If your posture is poor when you work out, you are reinforcing and exacerbating your poor posture. If you learn to align your body properly first, then begin a strength-training routine, you will develop good habits that you reinforce every time you work out. That is how you get better and stronger.
Watch what you eat. Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. Eating a variety of non-processed whole foods is what our bodies need to be well-balanced and properly fueled. You’ll have more energy, confidence and better health.
You’ve done the hard part by committing to fitness. With a little extra effort and knowledge, you can meet and even exceed your fitness goals.
The Core Connection offers nutrition and exercise pointers in classes such as Waist Management.