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21 November 2005

Five fitness tips

You know you should find time every day to exercise and to keep fit. And so should your children. Here are some tips to get you going and to keep you going!

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You know you should find time every day to exercise and to keep fit. And so should your children. Here are some tips to get you going and to keep you going!

1. Runners: avoid burnout
A hard day of running should be followed by a day of active resting, which could include an easy jog. If you don't allow recovery time, you'll soon see a decrease in your performance, experts say.

Take action:
Listen to your body. If you feel more exhausted than energised despite your best exercise efforts, it's probably time to take things more slowly. Also watch out for signs of overexertion, such as an increase in resting heart rate, muscle or joint pain, a bout of flu, or a decrease in appetite.

2. The secret of stretching
When you exercise, your muscles contract and relax, contract and relax. The repeated contraction can lead to shortening up of the muscles. Stretching will prevent this and help you avoid injury while exercising.

Take action:
When you stretch, ease your body into position until you feel the stretch. Hold it for about 25 seconds. Breathe deeply to help your body move oxygen-rich blood to those sore muscles. Don't bounce or force yourself into an uncomfortable position.

3. Take a walk
If you're not getting much exercise, you needn't buy a home fitness centre. Try walking. An eight-year study involving 13 000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised.

Take action:
Begin with a five-minute stroll and increase your distance gradually. Walk at a comfortable pace, focusing on good posture. Breathe deeply. If you can't catch your breath, slow down or avoid hills. If you can't talk and walk, you are walking too fast.

5. "Okay, now do 100 of these."
Many people who join a gym give up after several months for lack of motivation or because they overdo it and end up injuring muscles. Instead of flailing away at gym, enlist the help – even temporarily – of a personal trainer.

Take action:
Take the time to interview a few trainers and ask to talk to their clients who have goals similar to yours. Make sure your trainer teaches you how to breathe properly and to do the exercises the right way. You’ll get more of a workout while spending less time at the gym.

5. Reap the benefits of exercise
Regular exercise is essential for long-term weight control, stress reduction, and overall health. But make sure that you do both aerobic and resistance exercise. Aerobic activity strengthens the heart and burns calories, while resistance exercise strengthens bones, builds muscle, and increases metabolism.

Take action:
Choose a moderate aerobic activity that you enjoy, like walking, swimming or cycling. Complement this with resistance training to strengthen the muscles of your stomach, back, shoulders, legs and arms. Exercise three to five days a week, 30 to 45 minutes per session. Remember to do stretching exercises before and after your workout. And speak to your doctor before you begin any new exercise programme.

 
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