Stress relief is just as important for overall health and fitness as the right foods and exercise. (Photo: istock.com/anyaberkut)
During a long winter of cold temperatures and it getting dark so early, hibernating inside was all too easy. Evenings in front of the T.V. while snacking, leaves many of us feeling sluggish and our clothes feeling tight. With the longer daylight hours and the warmer weather approaching, comes an increased desire to be active.
Here are 10 easy steps to increase your energy and give you a greater level of health and fitness.
1. Drink a glass of water before each meal. Water helps to fill your stomach at meal times so that you will naturally eat smaller meals. It also helps to flush toxins from your body and will help banish your winter-time dry skin from the inside out.
2. Eat breakfast every day. After a night of not eating, your body needs some fuel to start the day. You will also find that getting adequate quality nutrition and calories in the morning will cut down on your desire for late night snacking.
3. Eat an apple a day. Apples are a quick, healthy snack that fill your stomach and provide a healthy dose of nutrients and fiber.
4. Sprinkle your breakfast with berries. Blueberries are the top-rated food for antioxidant content. Not only do berries make a tasty addition to a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, but frozen berries also make a satisfying snack that is as sweet as candy. (As always, watch your portions)
5. Walk or Run. Walking/running is the easiest exercise to do. You don't need any equipment other than a pair of sneakers. Not only does walking/running increase your fitness level, but it also reduces your stress. Walking/running in the spring is especially beneficial since enjoying the spring weather tends to lighten your mood.
6. Stretch. Stretching will help keep your muscles flexible so that you will be less likely to injure yourself as you become more active. Take at least five minutes to stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves before and after you walk.
7. Add strength training to your routine. Strength training two to three times a week will firm up your muscles and energize your body and build fat burning lean muscle mass.
8. Sneak exercise into other activities. Setting a goal to walk after dinner every night is good, but it is all too easy to get sidetracked and make excuses when the time comes. If you get into the habit of sneaking exercise in throughout the day, you will increase your fitness even on the days that you cannot go for a scheduled walk. One of the easiest ways to do this is to park your car as far from a store or office building entrance as you can. This extra walk through the parking lot every day will, over time, increase your fitness level. Passing by the elevator and taking the stairs whenever you can is another easy way to sneak fitness into your life.
9. Get enough sleep. There never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish everything that we need to get done. Sleep is often the first thing that gets pushed aside for other tasks. You should make sleep a priority, getting at least seven hours each night will leave you feeling refreshed and energetic. You will be more likely to accomplish each day's tasks if you are well rested.
10. Find time to meditate. Stress relief is just as important for overall health and fitness as the right foods and exercise. Life seems more complicated when our bodies are running at stress overload for a large part of the day. Taking five or ten minutes to meditate (relax the mind) can refocus your energy and drain stress from your body.
Remember that your body is going to revolt at first. You've been lounging on the couch all winter so don't expect your body to be joyous about this newfound fitness regime. It needs to be jump started and that may take a few weeks. It actually takes about 21 days for your body to get used to exercise. Within six weeks, your body will have adapted and you can now endure harder and lengthier workouts. Go at a slow but regular pace and in time your body will become acclimated.
Spring is the perfect time to recharge your health and fitness routine. Incorporate these 10 easy tips for health and fitness into your life and this year will be your most energetic yet.
Barbara is the owner of Train For the Game in Bellmore. She is a strength and conditioning coach who works with athletes and people of all ages.
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