I don’t usually write about these things but it’s something which I have taken more of an interest in the last few years. I like to frequent the gym (but I’m not like Arnie), as well as go running and hiking from time to time. Here I am going to share some of the things I have learnt during the last few years about getting fit. Many of these things might surprise you, but not if you’re not new to fitness (hopefully!). I should probably begin this blog by saying that I’m not a doctor or some health professional, so this advice shouldn’t be taken as a substitute for what they say. ANYWAYS let’s go!
- If you want to lose weight, exercise alone probably isn’t going to cut it. Why? Losing weight is about burning more calories than what you consume. It is very easy to ‘out eat’ the additional calories burnt by exercise. Instead you should focus on eating right to cut your calories down. Exercise does have many benefits of course, and alongside healthy eating it will help you burn the fat faster, but not by itself will you lose much weight.
- Lifting weights can help you lose weight. Let me explain. When you’re not exercising, your body is always burning calories in order to function, this is known as the basal metabolic rate. When you lift weights you will put on muscle (duh), but having more muscle means that your body has to expend more calories at rest to maintain the additional muscle mass. So weight lifting could be something to consider for a weight loss program.
- Avoid shortcuts and plan for the long run. If it took you a long time to get overweight then it will take you a while to lose it again. Furthermore, losing weight rapidly is unhealthy and can actually make it harder on yourself.
- Gaining muscle naturally takes much longer than what many people realise. Don’t expect massive changes within a few weeks (or even a few months).
- If you’re a guy, don’t lift primarily to attract ladies or you will be disappointed. Granted, if you are well out of shape then gaining muscle may improve your attractiveness somewhat, and some women do dig muscly guys, but for the most part your admirers will just be other guys.
- If you’re a girl, don’t be afraid of weightlifting. Unless you take steroids, you won’t look like she-hulk. Put it this way, it’s hard enough for guys to gain muscle naturally, so without the testosterone levels that guys have it will be even harder for you. In saying all that, you still can get super strong, and you will actually be more attractive, if you do lots of weightlifting (not that it should be your primary aim…).
- When it comes to frequency, more isn’t always better. When working out, your muscles have micro-tears which get repaired during rest, making your muscles bigger than before. If you aren’t resting a particular muscle group enough you will prevent it from developing.
- Running is one of the greatest ways to get fit.
- Running isn’t for everyone, particularly if you are well overweight since it will put more pressure on your joints. See a doctor first before undertaking some kind of running regime.
- Regardless of how fit you are, increase your distance gradually each week (no more than 10%). This is because it takes longer for your tendons and leg muscles to get stronger than it does for you to get more fit.
- As with weight lifting, running more frequently isn’t always better. In many cases running 3x a week is plenty for getting your fitness up for an event. Running more often could increase your chance of injury if you don’t normally run.
- You CAN run every day without injury, but you have to slowly build up to doing that, and it isn’t necessary.
- Running makes you feel awesome afterwards.
- Running on gym machines is just no substitute for running outside.
- It is ridiculously easy to get dehydrated when running. When running longer distances (10 km or more), I found that having a few glasses before and after the run simply wasn’t enough. Also when running longer distances, it REALLY pays to refuel lost electrolytes after the run, I felt like crap if I didn’t.
- Do this if you can’t/won’t do any of the things above. Do it regardless.
- Not nearly as difficult as running and almost anyone can do it daily with a low injury rate.
- Walking is very therapeutic, this might be why I love hiking.
- Ask yourself what is motivating you to get fit/in shape.
- Do what makes you feel good, but don’t use that as an excuse to shirk discipline. After all, a poor workout is infinitely better than no workout.
- Whatever you do, do it for you and no one else! True motivation comes from within.
So there we have it. I’m not sure how much of my audience is into exercise and fitness, but I would be interested in hearing what other people have to say about the points above. Also, what advice of your own have you learnt?
Goodbye for now – The Covert Atheist.