We all have bad habits; silly ones from biting our nails to more serious ones like smoking, but most of us also have bad exercise and fitness habits too. We may not even realise that they are that bad, but they can not only affect your short term health, but can even damage your health in the long term too.
One that we see all too often is skipping meals and not eating before exercise. You may think that eating before exercise is counterproductive as you are trying to burn calories and lose weight, but your body is like a car – if you run it on empty all the time, not only will it stop working to begin with, but you will also cause engine damage. Your body needs fuel to work efficiently including some glucose (blood sugar) in addition to what it can use from fat stores when you’re working out. If you don’t have any blood sugar available, your body can eat its own muscle tissue to get glycogen for fuel once it runs out of available blood sugar or glycogen stores. Low blood sugar will also make you tired and sluggish — and maybe even dizzy — during your training session.
Most studies show that working out on an empty stomach will make you perform worse and keep you from having an intense workout. I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training — you’ll have more energy and endurance to work harder, burn more calories, and improve your muscle tone. Quick healthy low-fat yogurt with berries, a banana, or spread a few tablespoons of natural almond butter on apple slices. These are quick, healthy snacks that will provide your body with the fuel it needs for a hard-core workout.
Another is not stretching or warming up and cooling down. A lot of people think, “Meh, it’s boring I don’t need to bother”, but this is not true. Dynamic stretches are recommended for the warm up and static stretches are recommended for the cool down. Before exercising you need to gradually increase your heart rate, increase circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments, and mentally prepare yourself for your workout; you will then find you can get more out of your session. As for cooling down, it helps stretch your muscles and increase flexibility. It means your heart rate will decrease slowly and helps delay onset muscle soreness.
And another bad habit is getting stuck in the same routine. Often people have a routine that they do in the gym every time they go. This is bad for many reasons, most importantly of which your body will stop progressing. You see, your body adapts to the stimulus you subject it to. If you don’t constantly change your workout then you cheat your body of opportunities to get fitter. Think about it – you haven’t trained in months and you do 20 squats. Well, the next day you’ll be sore, but if you do 20 squats for 10 days in a row, by day 10 you won’t be sore. That’s because your body has adapted to it.
So, make sure that at least every two you weeks you change your routine. Try changing the types of exercises you are doing and playing with the amount of sets, reps, and weights you are lifting. Also, try adding new classes to your regime. By training in different ways, your body becomes more efficient, well rounded, and less prone to injury. Break out of your comfort zone and try something new.
You also need to know your limits. The flipside of underperforming is pushing yourself too hard. You always need to understand and be aware of your limitations. Injuring yourself can put you out of the game for weeks! Make sure to take the time to use proper form. If it’s a really hard one, try a modification of the exercise.
If you injure a part of your body, you can still work around the injury (after consulting a doctor!), but there are some key points to remember. Generally speaking, if you have sustained an injury in your upper body, such as a rotator-cuff injury or torn biceps, for example, you can most likely do high-intensity, lower-body cardio like running, step, jump rope and so on. You can also continue to do exercises for your lower body, such as lunges, squats, leg presses, or dead lifts.
If your injury is in your lower extremities — knees, ankles, feet, shins, or calves — try low-impact forms of cardio such as swimming, recumbent biking, rowing, and shadow boxing with light weights in each hand. Again, generally speaking, you can also continue to do resistance-training moves for your upper body, such as back, chest, abs, and arm exercises.
If you can see yourself in any of these, then maybe it’s time to break the habit and try something different, whether it’s eating or exercise; sometimes the small changes make the biggest difference.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can finally break those bad fitness habits for you click here or give us a call on 01444 484129.