1. It seems there are infinite fitness tips and ideas these days for maintaining a healthy physique. One fitness "guru" may have a recommended workout regime, while another may completely contradict that information. When it comes to fitness and nutrition, who’s right? The answer, aggravating as it may be, is no one and everyone at the same time. Here are some universal exercise and nutrition tips that will get you on your way to optimum fitness.

    Stay at Home

    How many gyms or fitness centers do you pass on your way to work? To the grocery store? To a friend’s house? And how often do you feel guilty for not utilizing your own gym membership to its full potential? Instead of spending hundreds of dollars a year on a membership you don’t use, try investing that money on a small collection of workout DVDs that you can use in the comfort of your own home, at your convenience. Or, if you subscribe to certain cable channels, access the many fitness programs available to you at the touch of a button. You may need to purchase some hand weights or resistance bands, but it beats waiting in line to use the equipment at the gym.

    Get Outside

    Yes, this is beating a dead horse, but it’s true. The combination of the fresh air and positive effects of sunlight will boost any workout. If you live in a large city, perhaps you could go for a brisk walk while exploring an unfamiliar neighborhood. If you’re in a suburban or rural area, there may be nature trails or a local park for you to enjoy while exercising. No matter where you live, incorporating the outdoors into your regular activity will be a welcomed addition.

    Keep it Simple

    You don’t need fancy equipment or expensive personal training sessions to meet your fitness goals. 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity per day is recommended, and to achieve this all you need is a good pair of walking shoes. Walking provides the same cardiovascular benefits as running, and has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression. The great thing about walking is that it can be done anywhere.¬†

    Meditate

    As almost anyone can attest, getting through a difficult workout can often be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. But by spending a few minutes each day devoted to a meditation practice, stress and anxiety can be reduced, and focus can be improved. Meditation has also been shown to improve sleep habits, which can greatly affect the body’s ability to stay healthy and fit.

    Variety is the Spice of Life

    Our minds tend to get bored doing repetitive tasks, so it stands to reason that our bodies do, too. By maintaining the exact same workout routine day in and day out, our bodies will turn stagnant and will no longer respond to the movements. If you prefer to run 3 miles a day, try switching up one of those days by swimming laps instead. If you follow the same weight lifting circuit each time you visit the gym, try starting with a different muscle group. Changing your exercise regime regularly will force your body to adapt to the new movements, which will bring more desired results to your workouts.

    Team Work

    Admit it. Exercising on a regular basis isn’t always fun. It often takes all of our mental and physical energy to get through a good workout, especially after working all day. Team sports are an effective way to combat the dread we feel before exercising. If you live in a town with a community center, junior college, or university, chances are there are a number of community athletic teams to join. Many companies have their own teams, too. If not, why not start one from the ground up? Team sports satisfy both our need to stay in shape and our need to interact with others. Being accountable to your team members will also encourage you to show up, instead of choosing the carton of ice cream over your daily workout.

    The Finish Line

    In the same way that team sports hold you accountable, commiting yourself to finishing a race can also be a strong motivator. It doesn’t have to be a full marathon, or even a half marathon. Start with a 5K walk or run and work your way up. The technology available to assist in race training these days is extremely helpful and the positive energy that is present at an organized event is incredibly inspiring. Many organizations hold events that are open to all ages, so it might be fun to sign up the whole family!

    Hydrate

    A key to any good exercise routine is water. Staying hydrated helps every cell in the body function properly. It also helps flush out the lactic acid that builds up in our muscles after exercising – lactic acid is one of the causes of post-workout muscle soreness. Everyone is different, but the general rule is 8 glasses a day. Keeping a cup or water bottle at your desk is a good reminder to keep drinking.

    Don’t Overdo It

    Achieving and exceeding fitness goals feels great, but it’s ok to take it easy sometimes. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary. Our bodies are capable of amazing things. In order to accomplish those things, however, great care needs to be taken so that we don’t push ourselves too far. Take a rest day once or twice a week to allow your body to recuperate and rebuild. Your body will thank you for it.

    Listen

    We are all different. Some of us can run marathons while others exceed at sprinting. Some can lift 500 pounds and others will never be able to lift 50 pounds. Some of us are tall and lean. Some of us are short and stocky. It’s all ok. What’s important is to listen to your body and know what your limits are. If running is painful and tortuous, don’t do it. If you can’t bench press as much as your peers, don’t worry about it. If your regular yoga classes are unfulfilling, stop going. Find a form of exercise that works for you.¬†

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