10 Tips to Fall Into Fitness

The beginning of fall is like January 1. People make resolutions. Summer is over, and it's easy to get motivated to get into a routine and take your fitness to the next level. Here's a list of the 10 workout and nutrition guidelines to ensure you fall into fitness and reach your goals.

1) Aerobic Exercise

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends aerobic exercise three to five days a week for 20 to 60 minutes each session to maximize fitness gains and fat loss. If you're just starting with exercise you may want to take a couple of months to progress slowly into this range. Aerobic activities like walking, running, cycling, swimming, fitness classes, hiking, stair climbing, and rowing will do the trick. These activities expend a lot of energy, and for those of you wanting to lose body fat this should be the focus of your exercise program.

The intensity of your aerobic workouts should be at the intensity level of a five to eight rating of perceived exertion on a scale that goes up to 10. This means you should be able to work up a sweat, feel your heart pumping, and be breathing more rapidly. You should also split your weekly aerobic workouts into easy, moderate, and hard days to vary the intensity and train all energy systems.

2) Resistance Exercise

Regular strength training workouts are critical to maximize fat loss, build bone density, improve posture, develop muscle tone, and slow down the aging process. Luckily, you don't need to spend a lot of time in the weight room. Pick exercises for all the large, major muscle groups and perform just one set of eight to 15 reps. You should be able to get in and out of the weight room in 20 to 40 minutes. These short muscle-toning workouts are sufficient to achieve the results you're looking for.

3) Eat Five Small Meals Each Day

Studies indicate that when people eat more regularly throughout the day, they are less likely to overeat or indulge in less-healthy choices. Food at regular intervals also maintains a more balanced blood sugar level that keeps your energy levels higher throughout the day. Try to consume smaller meals or snacks every two to three hours during the day.

4) Drink at Least Eight Glasses of Water Every Day

Our bodies are 50 to 60 percent water, and when we are dehydrated, our body and its organs and systems don't function at their optimal level. This limits your ability to exercise intensely and ultimately will affect your ability to burn body fat. Many scientists also suggest that headaches, minor aches and pains, low energy, sleeping problems, and injuries may be a result of dehydration. Eight glasses of water each day will replenish the fluids you lose throughout the day as a result of normal human respiration.

5) Focus on What You Should Be Eating Instead of What You Shouldn't

Ensure you consume five vegetable and three fruit servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and water content and low in fat and calories. It's much more difficult to overeat when your diet consists largely of fruits and vegetables. If you fill up on your fruits and veggies, you're going to have less room for nutrient-poor foods.

6) Set Realistic Expectations

Practice the 80:20 rule. You can't expect to be perfect for the rest of your life, and setting these types of high expectations will set you up for failure and feelings of inadequacy. Instead of saying, "I'm never going to eat chocolate again," decide that you'll eat it only once per week. Instead of determining that you're going to eat perfectly seven days a week, decide that you'll eat in a healthy way five days a week and then allow for a few indulgences on the other two days. This is much more realistic and is something that you can adhere to for the rest of your life.

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