Simply put, exercise …
- Makes you feel better physically.
- Improves self-esteem and provides a more positive mental outlook.
- Makes you look better and helps to control your weight.
- Increases your balance, coordination, and agility.
- Helps prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and non–insulin-dependent diabetes.
- Makes you feel invigorated and more energetic.
- Strengthens bones and muscle, giving you the functional strength for everyday living.
Before you begin, there are some things to consider:
- Have realistic expectations. For all you beginners, don't expect to turn into a muscle-man or super-model overnight. (The majority of us never will.) It's great to have a hero, but understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, and genetics plays a major role in your body makeup and proportion. Rule #1: exercise is about looking and feeling your best—not somebody else's best.
- Set reasonable goals for yourself. Plan reachable short-term goals each week that will not leave you overwhelmed or set you up for failure. An example of a reasonable goal is: “I will work out four days this week and eliminate all high-fat desserts.”
Not a reasonable goal: “I will work out two hours every day and lose 10 pounds in three weeks.”
- Work exercise conveniently into your day. You know the story: unless exercise sessions are planned during realistic time slots, your “workouts” ain't gonna “work out.” Take into consideration your schedule. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Some people are lucky enough to have leisurely lunch breaks and can sneak in a quickie during their day.
- Rise and shine. Studies show that exercisers who work out in the morning are 50 percent more likely to stick with it. Basically, get it out of the way before the day wipes you out. (What's more, it can also save you an extra shower later.) If you have the capacity to endure a grueling day at the office and then shake, rattle, and roll in the gym—more power to you.
- Keep it short and sweet. Most people have hectic lifestyles and cannot afford to dedicate hours each day to the gym. And they shouldn't! Each workout should be short and efficient. The consistency of regular physical activity is as important as duration and intensity. Without any of these three elements, exercise is simply not effective. Furthermore, people who get carried away usually wind up with injuries or exercise burnout.