In my opinion, one of the most important things to know when it comes to your health and fitness program, is that it’s best to work at a beginner’s level if you actually ARE a beginner.
The same holds true if you have taken a hiatus for a while.
However, even if you have been at it for a while, there are still certain guidelines you need to follow to ensure that you are making the best, and most informed decisions when it comes to your wellness (or weight loss) program.
So today, I’m going to share some of these guidelines with you in the hopes that the information I dispense will guide you in the right direction as you plan your own activities.
A Beginner’s Guide to Health and Fitness
I have taken the liberty to put together a short, but efficient list of guidelines to follow in regard to designing a health and fitness program. If you are a beginner, this will serve as especially beneficial for you and will help to take some of the guesswork out of the equation while enabling you to remember that safety always comes first.
This list includes:
- Making sure you have eaten something for energy.
- Staying hydrated.
- Warming up.
- Cooling down.
Making Sure You Have Eaten Something For Energy
There has been a lot of confusion out there in regard to whether or not it’s a good idea to eat or fast before a workout.
Sometimes you hear things like “if you eat before working out you’ll only burn carbohydrates instead of stored fat” – and if you are looking to lose weight, then I can imagine that this philosophy may sound appealing.
However, the truth is that if you are going to exercise, you need fuel for energy. This comes in the form of food.
If you don’t have any available energy to use for exercise because you haven’t eaten something, you could run the risk of injuring yourself.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if the body doesn’t have enough glucose available due to fasting, your body will break down muscle tissue to release stored glucose – therefore rendering your workout useless since you won’t be able to keep the muscle you are building during your session.
You don’t have to engage in a large pre-workout feast. A cup of sliced fruit with yogurt, a small bowl of oatmeal with a drizzle of honey or a high quality, non-gmo snack bar about 30-60 minutes before your workout will suffice.
As long as you have eaten (something preferably clean and light), you should be good to go.
Dehydration doesn’t mix well with exercise either.
And since we usually don’t realize we are dehydrated until it’s too late, it often goes overlooked until the symptoms begin to show up.
It’s a good idea to drink about 16 ounces of water an hour prior to exercise and as much as needed during a workout.
Consider weighing yourself both before and after your fitness activity to see how much water you have lost within that time and drink approximately 16 oz of water per pound lost post workout.
Always have water with you and if available, consider eating fresh fruits and vegetables as your pre-workout snack since they contain water in them as well.
For more detailed information about the symptoms of dehydration, click here.
Warming up is a way to prepare your body for the upcoming stress of exercise. It benefits your heart, your muscles and helps you to get mentally prepared for the activity you are about to embark upon.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, nor does it have to take very long.
Some general guidelines to follow are:
- If you are doing a cardio workout, do 5-10 minutes at light intensity and gradually increase your workload from there.
- If you’re doing a resistance training routine, do a couple of sets with little to no resistance first and then move to a more challenging workload.
I highly recommend making warming up a regular part of your exercise routine regardless of how long your workout will be.
Cooling down after a workout is more important than you may realize. Not doing so can lead to some pretty unforgiving circumstances.
Lack of a proper cool down could lead to something called “blood pooling”, which is when the blood doesn’t make its way back to the heart via skeletal muscle contraction.
When this happens, dizziness can occur.
So can sudden cardiac arrest (SAC).
There are numerous cases where people have died because of the blood pooling that occurred due to lack of a proper cool down.
In order to avoid this, simply know that if you have been exercising, you need to allow your heart rate to slow down before standing still. You can easily achieve this by walking it off for several minutes.
If for any reason you have been running on the treadmill or engaging in an exercise class and you need to stop, make it a habit to cool down first.
It could, quite literally, save your life.
Safety Is Simple
The guidelines I have shared with you in this post are incredibly simple.
However, the truth is that not following these tips can possibly lead to unnecessary complications in an activity designed to bring you optimal health and well-being.
It’s about being mindful and present – and taking personal responsibility in caring enough to be well-informed and well-equipped with the knowledge, and the practice of engaging in an exercise program the right way.
You wouldn’t drive a car on an empty tank of gas, in the cold without having warmed it up first would you?
Of course not.
And you want to treat your body the same way.
Do you follow the guidelines discussed in this post?