Exercise is absolutely vital to our health. It develops strong muscles and helps keep our ticker pumping properly. Unfortunately, far too many of us neglect exercise, unable to make the time, while others admittedly despise it and make every excuse in the book to avoid even a single push-up. Whatever category you fall into–love it or hate it–you need a regular exercise routine to live a long and healthy life. So when you dedicate time, why not make the most of it?
By giving yourself a small little boost, you can achieve a better workout each time you set aside time to take care of your health. From wearing proper clothes to gaining energy through coffee or protein-packed food, here are nine simple things you can do for a better workout.
Wear the Right Clothes
Clothes can restrict your movements. And when you need to strengthen muscles, tight-fitting workout clothes can be more of a hindrance. Instead of letting them hold you back, wear stretchable active wear that allows for deeper movements, pushing your muscles further. Slip into a pair of workout leggings with a smooth elastic fabric that gives you a complete range of movement–without chafing!
Also, wear breathable clothes that can also keep you dry, allowing you to exercise longer without feeling soaked in sweat. Choose clothes constructed with a moisture-wicking material and mesh cutouts for extra airflow.
Wear the Right Shoes
The same as clothes, your feet deserve attention, too. With hard physical workouts, your feet and knees take the brunt of it–and sometimes you don’t realize until it’s too late. Instead of winding up with a sprained ankle or injured knee, invest in proper footwear.
For starters, make sure there’s enough heel support and cushioning. If you use the balls of your feet to jump or bounce around, make sure the toes are protected, too. While you may wear out expensive sneakers or cross trainers quicker than typical shoes, it’s better than shelling out for a surgery over fractures or a torn ligament.
Get Your Caffeine Fix
Mornings are a wonderful time for better workouts. But many of us need a full pot of coffee to even feel awake and ready to go. Well, good news! According to a study by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, apparently a healthy dose of caffeine can give you that energy boost you desperately need, plus improve your performance and expenditure. It goes without saying, but ultimately, coffee can offer both the incentive to get up for a morning workout as well as make the workout more efficient.
Warm Up and Stretch
It’s hard to carve out time for a workout. And once you find time, you tend to skip the warm-up and stretching. You want to make the most of your valuable time, after all. But warming up (and cooling down!) is actually imperative for a decent exercise routine. The American Heart Association suggests warming up for at 10-15 minutes to gradually increase your heart rate to dilate your blood vessels and help minimize stress on your heart.
Before exercising, stretch the muscles you aim to work out for 10-30 seconds. Repeat if needed, exhaling with each stretch and inhaling with each hold. After you complete an aerobic or weight-training workout, always stretch again.
Find the Right Energy Source
Have enough energy for your workout by eating the right foods. Aim for pre-workout foods that are packed with proteins and/or carbohydrates. Even certain fats have their place as an energy source. For strength-training exercises, proteins will help rebuild muscle tissue. For high-intensity workouts, carbs are a great source. Fats come in handy, too, offering sustainability for longer, lower-intensity training. While some prefer one nutrient over the other, a healthy balance of all is better.
One of the simplest things you can do for a better workout is to stay hydrated. As you sweat, your body loses water. And without proper body fluids, your exercise routine can feel harder and you can even dehydrate. Plus, this dehydration can also make recovery more challenging on your muscles and bones.
For a better workout, pick yourself up a decent water bottle–one that holds enough liters to get you through a typical exercise routine. The more you sweat, the more you should drink. And be sure to drink before, during and after each workout.
Strengthen Your Core
Your core strength is essential in achieving a better workout. Current sports medicine suggests that incorporating balance in an exercise uses more core muscles than an exercise in a stable position. Furthermore, developing stronger core muscles can enhance your overall balance and stability. You can feel these results through your everyday activities, too–not just workouts! To strengthen your core, focus on the ab area. Perform planks, sit-ups, squats and lunges.
Go High Intensity
High-intensity exercises are more challenging. However, they allow you to perform a powerful workout in little time, which is great for busy folks. While it’s still important to warm up and stretch, a high-intensity workout can get the job done fast! There are several HIIT workouts for women, such as bodyweight circuits and even some that combine yoga asana flows.
Another simple thing you can do for a better workout? Get outside and be one with nature. Environmental Science and Technology suggests that exercising in a natural environment makes us feel more revitalized and positive, reducing feelings of depression, anger and anxiety.
The satisfaction we get from being outdoors also increases the chances we will repeat the exercise and actually look forward to it. This way, you won’t drag your feet and will actually schedule time to break a sweat. So, whether you go for a run around the neighborhood or practice yoga in the nearest park, slip into your comfy workout leggings and trick your brain into loving exercise and getting some fresh air, too.