An effective weight loss strategy incorporates both healthy diet and exercise. But for those of us who are new to fitness, the amount of information circulated by well-meaning experts can be overwhelming. Below are simple answers to the four most common fitness questions.
Are some exercises more effective than others?
It depends upon what type of results you want. You’re spending your valuable time (and possibly money) on this weight loss journey, so you certainly want to get the best return on your investment. First identify your goals, and then choose the best exercises to meet those goals. If you need to lose weight for health reasons, activities like walking, riding a bike, swimming, and other forms of cardiovascular exercise are probably right for you. For flexibility and stress reduction, yoga and Pilates are ideal. If you’re very focused on getting firm, toned muscles, then you may want to consult with a personal trainer about the right weight lifting regimen.
Can I work out while I’m sick?
Experts commonly disagree on this issue, and professional athletes often claim that they never miss a day of practice. But since exercise can add strain to your immune system, why not take off a day or two to recover? Otherwise you risk making yourself even more sick, and that could negatively impact your long-term weight loss goals.
That doesn’t mean you have to be completely sedentary. Gentle, rhythmic movement such as walking or bouncing helps to flush the lymphatic system and stimulate the immune system, which is key to fighting infection. Take it easy, but do something to move your body and get the blood flow going. Lower your expectations and be gentle on yourself so that you can heal faster and gradually get back to your routine.
If you just insist on going to the gym when you have a cold, remember to be considerate and wipe down any exercise machines after you’re finished using them!
Should I do cardio before weights, or vice versa?
Again, this depends upon your goals. But for the average person who just wants to lose weight and get healthy, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you get moving and do it regularly! You might find that it helps to alternate your routine, so that you don’t get bored with it.
Do I need to join a gym?
Joining a gym may give you the motivation to work out, because you’ll feel guilty about wasting your money on the membership fees if you never go. You may also enjoy the amenities offered by a gym, the social environment, and the ability to work out indoors in bad weather. But you don’t have to join a gym to get healthy. There are plenty of activities you can do around your neighborhood, like walking or biking, and you can learn yoga or Pilates from Youtube videos!
Remember, the most important thing is to get started and keep going! Don’t get too hung up on the details of your fitness regimen. If you need more assistance, talk to a professional trainer or your weight loss coach.