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Go The Extra Mile… Literally

Go The Extra Mile… Literally

Go the Extra Mile… Literally

The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of combined physical activity each week for adults, especially seniors. This regular physical exercise staves off obesity, regulates heart rate and prevents chronic disease. But people hear “get active,” and they imagine struggling at the gym or running around the neighborhood before a sweaty collapse.

Physical activity is so much easier and more enjoyable than that. The most inexpensive and easily-accessible way to get started is with a regular walking plan. It would seem to defy logic that one of the first things people learn to do can be the secret to lifelong health, but it can be. Aim to get walking now, and see how fast the miles add up.

Get a Checkup Before Starting

A check-up screens for conditions that exercisers need to be aware of, including anemia, high blood pressure and high or low blood sugar levels. If left untreated, these conditions could cause walkers to become dizzy or faint. A doctor or nurse practitioner can also help you set reasonable milestones, such as measurable weight loss and distance goals.

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Good Shoes

No walking plan will succeed without strong, stable and supportive footwear. Do not walk for exercise in sandals, flip-flops or heels. These shoes do not offer the proper arch support or balance. Trying to exercise in them can lead to falls and even injuries.

The average walker can visit a department store or footwear chain to purchase a basic pair of athletic shoes. Try them on for the best fit. Most senior citizens will want to wear orthopedic shoes for their superior, podiatrist-approved arch and heel support.

Don’t Just Burn Fuel… Consume It

Exercising on an empty stomach is not recommended under any circumstances. Walking without a proper meal first can lead to headaches, dizziness and fainting. Walking in extreme heat without water or while dehydrated can lead to mild heat stroke.

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When consumed ahead of time, nutrient-dense and iron-rich foods provide good energy to sustain workouts. Drinking water while walking increases energy and hydration. Enjoying a light, protein-rich snack after a workout replaces vitamins and minerals lost from sweat.

It is so critical to fuel, refuel and replenish ahead of time that there must be a plan for it.

  • Invest in a non-plastic, stainless steel, high-grade water bottle.
  • Carry fruit and all-natural, organic trail mixes during a walk.
  • Save dinner leftovers, then eat a portion of them as lean meals prior to or after a workout.
  • Avoid artificially-flavored and colored energy bars, energy drinks and energy powders.

Proper Positioning

Walking is not the same as jogging or aerobics. It is intended to produce a light sweat at most. According to the Mayo Clinic, the proper walking technique is:

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  • Hold head high.
  • Look forward.
  • Keep chin parallel to the ground.
  • Tighten stomach muscles slightly.
  • Walk smoothly- don’t stomp.
  • Swing arms freely with slight bend in the elbow.
  • Keep a straight back.

Improper positioning can lead to too much exertion and even falls or injuries. These small adjustments burn more calories, ease joint stress and target the right muscles.

Track Progress

The benefits of walking never wear off, but the excitement can wear down. Motivation and new goals are the keys to continue to go the extra mile. People who are committed to walking can explore the CDC’s Mall Walking program, a walking buddy or a pedometer.

A pedometer is a small device which counts the number of steps wearers make each day. The Journal of American Medicine reported that pedometer users gained 2,000 additional steps a day compared with non-users, and users’ overall physical activity level increased by about a third more than non-users. An exact figure is a powerful point of reference to measure progress and form new goals in a life of walking.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels.com via pexels.com

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Published on November 29, 2018

When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

“I don’t have time”

is the number one excuse people give when they’re asked how come they don’t exercise.

In the book The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz, it says that it’s management of our energy levels and not time that is the key to higher performance. If we kept our energy levels in check and made sure that every part of our lives contributed to positive energy levels, we would be able to get more done.

One of those aspects that give us energy is exercise.

Exercise is the fuel that gives us energy and an activity that keeps on giving even if we are sitting around day in the office and in meetings.

Reaping the benefits of a good workout is immediate. We have better focus and concentration; we are more alert and awake; we manage our mood better and have more creativity after a good workout than if we skipped the gym.

If you’d like to get started working out I’m going cover the pros and cons to exercising at different times of the day so that you can find a time that fits for your lifestyle and schedule.

So, when is the best time to work out? Let’s get started!

Working out in the Morning

Most people aspire to exercise first thing in the morning and get it out of the way. If this is you, read on to find out the additional benefits of getting your workout done in the morning.

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Benefits of Morning Workouts

1. The rest of the day is yours

Exercise and lifting weights is a staple and a habit in my life but it’s also the biggest to-do on my list. When I exercise first thing in the morning, then I’m free to do whatever I want the rest of the day. This is why I have a very strong preference of exercising in the morning as oppose to afternoons or evenings.

I schedule my day with my biggest to-dos first while I have the energy and focus at the beginning of the day. But the more I procrastinate about my workout and putting it on my list for later, the bigger that reminder to exercise sits on my shoulder.

My mind feels free when I finish my workout and this is the main reason I get my exercise in as soon as the day allows; and if I have to get up before the sun rises, then so be it.

2. Gyms are less crowded and there is more equipment available

Here’s the best part about working out early in the morning – there is not competition for equipment.

Most people typically struggle with getting up early in the morning except for the elderly. And in the morning, the gym floors are pretty sparse, this means there is no wait for equipment or competing for floor space.

I live in the crowded city of San Francisco where the gyms are packed once it gets to 9 AM, so the best times to get in if I want a squat rack is before 8 AM. Plus, the gym equipment is organized so I can find the free weights I want without much effort and there is usually a bench available.

3. You have more energy and more clarity to fire up the day

After you drag yourself to the gym at the crack of dawn, you will walk out of there with more energy and clarity then when you stepped in. Not only will you wide awake but you have extra energy on top of your cup of coffee.

The extra burst of creativity and focus keeps you productive so that you’re able to make more progress on your projects at work and finish earlier.

4. You become more consistent

The ones who see results are the ones who are consistent and morning people are definitely more consistent than people who postpone their workouts later in the day.[1]

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This is because as the day starts to unfold, unexpected meetings and events come up that can cut into or even eliminate gym time. If you want to workout more consistently, get your workout in first thing in the morning before life happens.

Downsides of Morning Workouts

1. You’re a zombie on the floor

Of course dragging yourself out of bed before the sun rises is why most people struggle with morning workouts. Some of us, like me, don’t want to talk to anyone before a certain time and get really short on a lack of sleep.

To combat morning zombie, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

2. Your preparation starts the night before

Your workout may happen in the morning but your preparation starts the night before. If you’re a last minute person and not a planner, you will struggle in the mornings to get out the door in time.

Packing everything you need for the gym in the morning is the key to getting to your workout in that day. Support successful mornings by modifying your night time routine in order to prepare for the next day.

How to Make It Easier to Wake Up

The first step is to make a commitment and stick with it. Don’t go back and forth the night before on whether you should go to the gym in the morning.

Make the decision to go in the morning and focus your energy on making it happen.

When you create that habit, you do it even if your workout is less than optimal and you’re not completely ‘all there’ or you’re a zombie in the morning. Just keep going because repetition makes it easier and the more often you go, the easier it gets.

Eventually your brain will catch up and start to automatically be awake at those times.

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A question you can ask yourself is what can you do to make it easier for you?

Can you set your workout clothes out the night before? Or have your breakfast prepared the night before? Or if you’re an alarm snoozer, put your alarm across the room and set back up alarms to make sure you get out of bed to shut them off.

Again, what can you do to make it 20 seconds easier to help you get up and out of the door in the morning?

Working out in the Afternoon/Evening

So what about working out in the evening? Is it a good time to help achieve your fitness goals?

Benefits of Evening Workouts

1. Your body performance is at its peak

When you’re training in the afternoon, your warm ups can be shorter because your body temperature increases throughout the day.

A higher body temperature leads to increased flexibility,[2] overall muscle strength,[3] and increased endurance.

Not only does the combination of low blood pressure and heart rate in the afternoon lead to faster reaction times and better performance, but also less likelihood injury.

At the same time the muscle growth hormone testosterone also peaks in the afternoon which is great for maximizing resistance training.

2. An accountability partner is easier to come by

If you’re someone who needs accountability partner to make it to the gym consistently, it could be easier to find a workout buddy in the afternoon than it is in the early morning. There is more flexibility in scheduling during lunch or after work as oppose to early mornings because it could cut into your sleep.

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3. You have more class options

If you’re a class person or like to attend group classes, I found that there are more class options in the afternoon/evening times versus mornings. So your favorite instructor may teach a couple more classes in the afternoon during the week giving you more flexibility in your schedule.

4. It’s a great way to destress after a long day

One of my favorite reasons to workout in the afternoon is the relief it provides after a long day at work. This is especially true for those who work long stressful hours. That hour you spend at the gym is dedicated you time to zone out is completely relaxing for the mind.[4]

Downsides of Evening Workouts

1. Consistency could take a back seat

Postponing your workouts till later in the day means you are more likely to skip your workouts because of an unexpected event. You’re also more likely to be low on energy after a long stressful day or you have to stay late at work and cancel your workout.

I find afternoon and evening workouts challenging because I’m ready to wind down after a long day and instead have to find the energy to wind up and be mentally prepared for my workout.

2. Crowded gyms and classes

For the most part, gyms are packed in the afternoon because of the after work crowd and in some cases gyms require you to RSVP to classes ahead of time due to limited spots. Majority of the people prefer working out after work and you’ll see an influx in crowds at the gym.

3. Additional preparation required

Working out after work means you need to be more mindful of your meals and make sure that you have prepared additional snacks to help you get through your workout.

It also means lugging around an extra bag with your gym clothes and other essentials.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you workout because your body will adjust to your schedule when you go the same times every time. What’s important is that you find a time that you can go to the gym consistently that works with your schedule.

It’s important to be consistent because consistency is what’s going to get you results. The road to results is simple but not easy. Mastering consistency year round is what is going to make you leaner and stronger one year from now.

Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

Reference

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