As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango. A good diet without physical activity will make looking good and feeling fit very difficult. The previous section covered the basics of what to eat. Let’s now take a look at the other side of the coin – regular physical activity.
Drop the remote – let’s go!
After a long bout of ‘couch potato Olympics’, getting started with physical activity can be a battle.
The best place to start is to look at all the positives of getting active and staying active:
- It burns body fat and helps to deflate the old spare tyre around your waistline.
- It’s a natural stress buster.
- It helps to control your blood cholesterol. It reduces the ‘bad’ cholesterol while increasing the ‘good’ cholesterol in your blood.
- It gives your heart a good workout, helping to keep it pumping strong.
- It increases certain chemicals in the brain which make you feel good.
- It increases muscle mass.
- It reduces the risk of developing some diseases and can add years to your life.
- It can assist in boosting your self-esteem, via a better body image.
- It helps to keep your bowel habits regular.
- It gives you the opportunity to meet new friends – and for bachelors, even possibly a new lover!
- It helps you to sleep better – so you’ll feel more refreshed and lively throughout the day.
- It’s great for your bones – helping to keep them strong.
- It can help to maintain strength, stamina, flexibility and a high metabolism – all things that we tend to lose with age.
Cardio workouts versus weights
Is your goal to lose body fat or simply gain muscle? Or is it a combination of both? If you want to lose the extra weight, then cardio workouts are the thing for you. If it is big muscles that you are after, then add weights training to your weekly routine. If you want to drop the weight and achieve better muscle definition, then your weekly program should include cardio workouts plus weight training.
The best types of cardio workouts for fat loss include ‘weight bearing’ exercise like fast walking, jogging, aerobics, football, soccer, tennis, squash, snow skiing and so on. Weight supported exercise like swimming and cycling are less effective in shifting unwanted fat stores.
For a safe and effective weight training program see a gym instructor or a personal trainer rather than designing your own. They can tailor a weights program to your needs and provide instruction on how to handle the weights correctly without injuring yourself.
Tips to flatten the spare tyre
Carrying a spare tyre (excess fat) around your middle is a burden on one of our most important internal organs - the heart. So, if you get rid of the bulge, you’ll be happy and your ticker will be over the moon too!
Here are some strategies to deflate the spare tyre:
- Clock up some ‘incidental activity’ time. This includes things like walking around the office, taking the stairs instead of the lift and getting off the couch to change the TV channels instead of using the remote. The more incidental activity you do, the more kilojoules you will burn during the day. Remember – every little bit counts!
- Block out some ‘me’ time. Make a one hour appointment with yourself, three to four times a week. And consider this appointment as important as any other work-related appointment or meeting. It’s important not to let other things override your exercise time.
- Think beyond the gym. Throwing a frisbee to your kids in the park or taking the dog for a walk or jog counts as physical activity. So if the gym is not your scene, try and think of what you really like doing and just do it. The most important thing is to move your body, get the heart pumping and have fun while doing it.
- Find an exercise buddy. An exercise buddy can help you get motivated and keep motivated. You will both benefit from the partnership.