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Top 10 Fitness Tips

By Steve Edwards
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After answering, like, a bazillion fitness and nutrition questions from people ranging from X-Game champions to great grandparents, I've decided it's time to lay down my top 10 tips about fitness. Given the parameters, these are going to be general, across-the-board tips that will benefit all walks of life. This means, hopefully, that many of them will leave you thinking "that's just common sense." Of course, if they were actually all common sense, we'd be a lot healthier and I'd be out of a job. So here are the top 10 ways to put Steve in the unemployment line!

Exercise Every Day   1. Exercise Every Day. This is not as simple as it sounds; it's simpler. This doesn't mean you need to run, lift weights, or take an aerobics class. Each day you should do some form of movement that elevates your heart rate. And this can be as simple as walking to the corner market to buy a paper. The new government guidelines are recommending an hour of exercise per day and you don't need an hour in the gym in order to be totally buffed. But the hour is recommended because things like computers, TVs, and Domino's have made it completely possible to spend an entire day (or life) within a 10-foot radius of your couch. Even 20 years ago, this was virtually impossible. Now it's becoming almost common. So get moving, every single day!
 
Eat More Plants 2. Eat More Plants. Back before Domino's, we had to leave home in order to procure food. At one point, we found most of our food growing in the ground and hanging from trees. These items, called fruits and vegetables, are now most often found in flavoring for Slurpees and other colorful man-made creations that have little to no food value. In their natural state, plants are loaded with nutrients and fiber, which keeps us healthy, energized, not hungry, and thin.
   
Weight Train 3. Weight Train. You don't have to use weights, but you need resistance against your muscles. As we age, our muscles atrophy more every year. Resistance training creates hypertrophy, the opposite of atrophy, which more of less keeps us young. We tend to think of it as something for young bucks in the gym, but, in actuality, it's the fountain of youth and most important for the elderly. The older you are, the more important weight training is to your quality of life.
     
Circuit Train   4. Circuit Train. This is weight training where you move continually from one exercise to the next. If you follow this practice, you heart rate will stay high throughout your entire workout and it will double as a cardio session. A properly laid out "weight-training" session can exercise all of your energy systems and, essentially, be the only type of workout that you need.
     
Periodize Your Training   5. Periodize Your Training. This means that you change what you do every so often. While it's okay to do the same thing all of the time if it's, say, the perfect workout (see above), it's still much better if you continually change. An exercise "block" should range between 3 and 12 weeks, which is the amount of time your body needs to adapt to new training and make accelerated gains. After this period, your gains will level off because, basically, you have become better at this given exercise plan.
     
Train Functionally   6. Train Functionally. This means to incorporate movements into your exercise routine that mimic, or benefit, the movements that you practice in the real world. Sports are often a good way to functional train since they require your body to move in a way efficient for the activity. These exercises often incorporate stability balls and other devices and tend to focus on balance so that your fire your stabilizer muscles as well as your prime-mover muscles (the big ones we all notice). Functional training keeps your body in balance, and a balanced body is more resistant to injury and illness.
     
Stretch   7. Stretch. And stretch once you are warmed up. Resistance training contracts your muscles, making them smaller and tighter. This is true for easy resistance training too, like all forms of cardio. While you want strong muscles, if they get too tight they become susceptible to injury. To offset this you need to stretch them out, which should be done once you finish exercising when your muscles are warm.
     
Train Your Core   8. Train Your Core. Not your abs, but your entire trunk area: front, sides, and back. "New age" training, like yoga and Pilates (which both happen to be old), focus heavily on the core region. And for good reason. Everything we do starts at the core. A healthy trunk means a healthy tree. And strong arms and legs are only as useful as the base they radiate from.
     
Hydrate   9. Hydrate. Our bodies are over 60% water and most of us are underhydrated most of the time. This is mainly because our most common beverages tend to dehydrate us. Coffee, tea, alcohol, and soda all offset the hydration process. Basically, we just need to drink more water. How much is totally variable and based on exercise, but you should drink a half a gallon of water on days that you don't exercise.
     
Plan To Exercise   10. Plan to Exercise. Numbers 1 and 10 are variations on the same theme, but in practice, totally different. In number 1, the idea is to move your body around whenever you can. This last tip refers to making a workout, not just movement, part of your daily schedule. You schedule time to eat and sleep. Well, exercise is the third most important thing you do in your life and the most important thing that is optional. But it shouldn't be optional. If you don't exercise you will have less energy, be less productive, be sick more often, and die younger. We tend to tell ourselves that we can't exercise because of our job or our family. But if you're sick all the time you lose your job. And if you're dead, you can't be there for your family. Move exercise to the top of your priority list. Nothing is more important for you, those who depend on you, and those whom you love.
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