If your good intentions for a fitter New Year often struggle to make it past mid-January, perhaps it's because you just haven't yet found the exercise routine that suits you. Why not ditch the same old regime and try something new? Read on for workout & fitness tips for everyone, from mums-on-the-go to high-intensity training.
Best for busy mums: At home workouts
Like fitness videos 20 years ago, online workouts allow you to train at home instead of at the gym. This is great for mums who need to be at home a lot of the time and only have time for exercise when everyone else is at school or in bed.
The lowdown There are different levels of at home workouts found online. You can try simple routines that have been posted on YouTube but for a small fee you can sign up to a dedicated fitness website where it's easier to track your progress and get expert advice on how and when to move on to new exercises. Then there is a further option, where you can sign up to a personal trainer online. This gives you access to trainers more easily and for a much cheaper rate than you'd pay for a personal trainer at your gym, while you still get their experience and guidance, including emails, diet advice etc. The only thing to bear in mind is that there's no one by your side checking you're doing the exercise right or to motivate you. One handy way to get the incentive you need is to use your social media links for motivation, find out how in our article How Twitter could get you fitter.
How to do it Go online and research what home workouts might suit you. Many sites can be accessed through mobile devices as well as your computer, allowing you to be flexible about where and when you exercise.
How often As often as you'd usually work out, but bearing in mind that this way it's up to you to stick at it! For other home workout ideas, why not have a look at our Pilates routine and other exercises to do at home?
Best for short energy bursts: High intensity interval training
Do you get bored when you're slogging on a treadmill? Then this could be ideal for you. However it's not suitable if you're new to exercising and it's worth asking an experienced trainer before you give it a go.
The lowdown High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been found to burn more calories than longer periods of lower intensity aerobic exercise, plus the stop-start pattern gradually improves cardiovascular performance and your ability to run faster for longer.
How to do it Interval training consists of a series of intense bursts of exercise lasting from a few seconds to two or three minutes, then a recovery phase of slower exercise, repeated again and again during one workout. For example, a fast sprint between two points then a slower run over a longer distance, then another sprint and so on. The slower phase is important as this is when the body burns fat to produce enough energy to recover from the intense period. For tips in how to improve your performance in exercises you love (like swimming, tennis, cycling and squash), check out expert advice to instantly up your game
How often HIIT shouldn't be used for every workout session. A study from McMaster University in Canada concluded that three 20-minute sessions of HIIT in one week could be enough to offer the same benefits as 10 hours of steady exercise in twice that time.
Best for maximising your fitness regime: Recovery exercises
The more scientists understand about the benefits of exercise, the clearer it becomes that downtime is a crucial part of the fitness process.
The lowdown However fit you feel, it's important to have less hectic exercise days because it's when you're at rest that your body burns calories. Overly tired muscles simply don't do this as effectively.
How to do it In between full-on exercise days, go for a lighter gym session or try our home workout exercises, just to stretch your body out and keep muscles knot-free. Alternatively you could try restorative yoga which focuses on deep relaxation to relieve stress. Unlike regular yoga, with restorative yoga you can use props like a cushion or folded blanket so that you stretch out and hold positions for longer without putting too much pressure on your body. For other ideas, why not check out our exercises to help relieve stress ?
How often In order to keep the gym habit going, recovery exercises have become really popular as a way to keep yourself in the fit zone. It takes anything from 24 to 48 hours for the body to recover from a tough workout, so find the right balance of intense and recovery days to suit you.
Best for maximising your hectic schedule: Fitness trackers
Sometimes you want to go for a jog or a cycle ride, but other days you're so busy racing round with chores that you get to the end of the day feeling like you've already been to the gym when you haven't. A wearable fitness tracker can help you get a better focus on what levels of activity you really need - factoring in all that running around as well as time spent in the gym.
The lowdown Fitness trackers are usually worn as wristbands. There are several on the market and they all have slightly different features, but generally, they track your movements and the energy levels you're using. You can then sync the tracker with your mobile and computer to keep tabs on how active you've been. It can be really encouraging to see how many calories you've burned on a brisk walk to the shops, a cycle to work or a Zumba session with friends, and through tracking you are encouraged to gradually increase those useful, active periods in each day.
How to do it Each fitness tracker works slightly differently, but basically you follow the manufacturer's getting started guide, registering your details (including physical details like age, weight etc), then you wear the tracker all day, each day, and it stores information about how physically active you've been. If you're doing a specific session, like a jog, you can set it to measure just that period of time, and when you come to compare that with other activities you're doing, you start to see where you're really burning those calories. This way you can adjust your habits accordingly, for the better.
How often A fitness tracker can be worn all the time, and by simply taking stock of what you're doing when, it should act as a real incentive for you to start working out more regularly. It will show you how valuable even a more lively social life can be. For instance, why not wear a tracker and give our Ballroom & Latin dance home workout a go?
Always be ready for action
To keep your enthusiasm for fitness up, why not build in a few super-easy 10-minute energy boosters into your daily routine to get you started?
Stay comfortable while getting physical by wearing comfortable and light clothing that's perfect for long stretches and sweat-worthy moves. Why not choose tops and bottoms in bright colors, which are all the trend now? Mix and match cropped tanks and a pair of leggings on your cardio days. Switch to shorts when the days get hotter and want to stay cooler during your outdoor runs. Don't forget to hang your sweaty clothes to dry first if you can't wash them right away after each use. A gentle laundry detergent like Ariel will effectively kill germs and remove bad odors and sweat, ensuring that your clothes will look good as new again.
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