40 Fitness Tips for Your Health

Follow These Fitness Tips To Improve Your Health

1. If you play golf, you can reap fitness rewards by walking instead of riding a cart. (Try to  avoid courses where carts are required.) And if you carry your bag, you’ll get an even more  strenuous workout. Playing an 18­hole course you cover about five miles and burn an estimated  500 calories. 

2. To get the most from a stair­climbing machine, don’t lean on the rails or front monitor, since that reduces your energy expenditure. Hold the rails lightly—just enough to avoid losing  your balance. 

3. For a better walking workout on the treadmill, swing your arms. That way your movement is similar to cross­country skiing, one of the best calorie burners around. One study  found that treadmill walkers, by adding vigorous arm motion, could boost their caloric  expenditures by about 50%—from 10 calories per minute up to 15. This will also improve upperbody strength. 

4. Walk hills to burn more calories. It’s not surprising that you burn more calories when you  walk uphill than on level ground. But, in fact, walking downhill also uses significantly more  energy than walking on flat terrain. 

5. Try not to run straight down a steep hill: instead, run down in a zigzag pattern, leaning  slightly forward and keeping your knees bent. Or walk down it. Running downhill puts much  more stress on joints and muscles in your feet and legs than running uphill. As you go down a  hill, you speed up, your stride lengthens, and thus your impact with the ground increases. There’s also an increased risk of muscle soreness the next day. 

6. When exercising, use the “talk test” to make sure you aren’t working out too  strenuously. If you can just respond to conversation, your exercise intensity is just about right. If you can’t talk, slow down. This test can be as accurate as heart rate monitors in gauging exercise  intensity. 

7. To reduce your risk of stroke, take a walk. A Yale University study of more than 9,000  white male veterans, aged 50 to 60, showed that those who reported inactive life styles were  nearly seven times more likely to suffer a stroke than men who were moderately or very active. A daily walk of just one mile was found to be the minimum activity for reducing stroke risk. 

8. Take the stairs. Several work­site studies have found that people who simply began using  staircases (instead of elevators) improved their overall physical fitness by 10 to 15%. A person  climbing stairs at the rate of two steps per second uses, on average, 18 calories per minute, or 360 calories in just 20 minutes. 

9. If you play a sport and sometimes have low­back pain, try to correct muscle imbalances by becoming a little ambidextrous. Constantly rotating your lower back and hips in the same  direction can produce recurrent muscle strain. So if you play golf, practice occasionally with an  opposite­handed swing. In tennis warm­ups, try a few weaker­side forehand and backhand  strokes. In baseball, try a few weaker­side pitches between batters.

10. Replace worn exercise shoes. They typically lose about one­third of their ability to absorb  shock after 500 miles of use and may wear unevenly. Loss of cushioning in the shock­absorbent  midsole occurs long before the outer sole or upper shoe shows wear. 

11. Once the hot weather starts, build up your tolerance to outdoor exercise slowly. During  the first week or two, your body will adjust by enlarging sweat glands and tiny blood vessels near the skin’s surface. 

12. Walk on sand or soft dirt to boost your energy expenditure by a third. It also exercises more of the muscles in the foot, especially if you walk barefoot. 

13. To boost immunity, exercise regularly and moderately. Though long and intense  exercise may actually depress immunity, moderate exercise may boost the body’s ability to fight  off colds and other illness. 

14. Try cross­country skiing. In terms of all­around aerobic benefits, it’s the front­runner. Using muscles in the shoulders, back, chest, abdomen, buttocks, and legs, cross­country skiers  can burn as many as 600 to 900 calories per hour. Cross­country skiing also spares your body the  impact that running inflicts. 

15. Drink, drink, drink. You can easily sweat away more than a quart of water during an hour of strenuous exercise, especially in hot weather. Dehydration can impair your performance, causing lethargy, nausea, and cramps, or even heat exhaustion. Drink even if you don’t feel  thirsty. For optimal hydration during strenuous endurance exercise, drink at least 16 to 20 ounces of fluid two hours before exercising and another 8 ounces 15 to 30 minutes before. While  exercising, sip 4 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. 

16. After exercising, replace the fluid you’ve sweated off. Weigh yourself before and after  your workout; drink one pint for each pound lost. 

17. Make your own sports drink. For most exercisers, water is an ideal fluid replacement. But  during a strenuous endurance event lasting more than an hour, slightly sugared beverages may  help your body conserve its carbohydrate stores, maintain normal blood sugar levels, and thus delay fatigue. Special “sports drinks” supply the optimal amount of carbohydrates 4 to 8% concentration for endurance exercise, plus small amounts of sodium and potassium. But, in  fact, these drinks are nutritionally similar to diluted juice or soft drinks. 

18. For the best sit­ups, keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, and come up to  no more than a 30° angle. Skip those old­fashioned straight­leg sit­ups; these can make you  overarch and thus strain your lower back. 

19. Exercise to help maintain a healthy blood pressure level. People with high blood  pressure are generally advised to do aerobic exercise (such as cycling or brisk walking) and  strength training with light weights. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Be careful if you lift heavy weights or do isometric exercise—such as pushing against a  wall or pressing palms together to build strength. Keep the intensity light to moderate, and rest  between the brief bouts. 

20. Try high­tech athletic socks, made of a variety of new synthetic materials, such as high­ bulk Orlon (acrylic) and polypropylene. They are better at protecting your feet from friction, absorbing perspiration, and providing cushioning. 

21. Here’s a novel way to strengthen your forearm muscles, wrist, and grip, as well as increase flexibility. With one outstretched arm, hold a page of newspaper by a corner and  crumble it up into a small ball as fast as you can using only that one hand. Repeat a few times, several times a week, as part of your regular exercise routine. This can help in a wide variety of sports, from tennis to rock climbing, as well as in daily activities. 

22. When exercising outdoors on a cold day, don’t overdress. Exercise raises body  temperature significantly—even a moderate workout can make you feel that it’s 30° warmer than  it really is. So when you’re about to run on a 25° day, dress for about 55°. In other words, dress so that you’re slightly chilled when you first go out—once you start exercising, you’ll warm up. And layer your clothing—that allows you to unzip and/or remove clothes in order to lower body  temperature during strenuous exertion. 

23. If you can’t keep up your normal exercise routine, try to work out at least once a week to  prevent “detraining.” Studies show that exercising just one day a week can help people maintain  their gains. 

24. If your muscles are sore the day after strenuous exercise, the best remedy is to make those muscles work again by going back to the same exercise the next day, only less intensely. 

25. Wear sunscreen when exercising in the sun. Many runners and other outdoor exercisers avoid sunscreens because they’ve heard that the creams can inhibit sweating and lead to  overheating. But one study found that sunscreens might actually enhance heat dissipation  slightly, which would be beneficial. Skin temperature rose less when people wore sunscreen than  when they didn’t. This may not be true of all products, so try different brands to see which works best for you when you exercise. 

26. Always ice an acute injury immediately. Continue icing every 20 minutes during the next  48 hours. Applying heat can increase inflammation if done within the first day or two. 

27. Take the following steps to relieve a stitch (a sharp pain in the side) that develops during  exercise. Bend forward while tightening your abdomen. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly  through pursed lips. Tighten your belt. If you aren’t wearing one, push your fingers into the  painful area. Also try stretching the abdominal muscles by raising your arms and reaching above  your head.

28. When using a stationary bike or treadmill, set up a fan to blow directly on you as you  exercise. The air blowing on your skin will cool you even faster than air­conditioning. A lack of air flow is one reason why a workout on an indoor cycle can be so much more tiring than the  same amount of cycling outdoors, even in the hottest weather. The evaporation of sweat provides the most important cooling mechanism for your body—and this process is helped considerably if you have dry air flowing on your skin and around your body. 

29. Always wear a helmet when cycling. Of the nation’s 800 annual cycling deaths in the  U.S., head injuries account for about 60%. If all cyclists wore helmets, perhaps half of these  deaths and injuries could be avoided. 

30. Wear your bike helmet right: tighten the straps so that the helmet can’t tip forward or backward and so that you can open your mouth only a little. Don’t wear the helmet tipped  upward: it should sit level from front to back. If you can easily slip a finger between your head  and the shell, the helmet is too big and you should consider buying a smaller one. 

31. If you have osteoarthritis, the best thing you can do is exercise. Understandably, if you  have joint pain you may have formed the habit of walking more slowly and doing as little as possible. If this is the case, you need to get moving again—slowly and gently, but definitely. It’s a good idea to check with your physician first, and possibly get a referral to a physical therapist. You can also contact the Arthritis Foundation. 

32. Use elastic bands if you want to become stronger but are intimidated by the idea of lifting  dumbbells and barbells (and don’t have access to weight machines). These long, wide bands provide the resistance you need to work your muscles. They are cheap, easy to carry around, and  versatile. Available in sporting­ goods stores, the bands often come with good illustrated  booklets. 

33. Add jumping rope to your workout to build cardiovascular endurance. It also helps improve coordination, speed, and agility. If you play a sport (such as tennis, basketball, or skiing) that requires bursts of speed and power, jumping rope can be particularly beneficial. It  burns lots of calories: if you weigh 150 pounds and jump at 120 turns per minute, you’ll burn  about 12 calories a minute. And it’s lower in impact and less hard on the knees than running, since you should jump only an inch or two off the ground. 

34. Drink as much in the cold as in the heat. It’s easy to become dehydrated when exercising  in cold weather because of the water you lose from sweating and breathing (you have to warm  and moisten the cold air you inhale). As you exhale you lose water; when you “see” your breath, you’re seeing water droplets. Moreover, urine production is stimulated by the cold. Skip alcohol  and caffeine; both dehydrate you. Alcohol gives you the illusion of warmth while it robs you of heat by dilating blood vessels near the skin’s surface. 

35. To boost your metabolic rate, exercise more. Your metabolic rate is the rate at which your body uses energy—the number of calories it burns in a given period of time, either at rest or while active. If your resting metabolic rate is high, you may find  that you can eat a lot, exercise little, and still not gain weight. Conversely, if your resting  metabolic rate is low, you may eat relatively little and be fairly active but still not lose weight. Most people approach weight control wrong: they simply try to cut down on the food, fat, and  calories they consume, and they usually fail. The trick is to stoke up the furnace—that is, increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day. Obviously, exercise burns calories, but not so obviously, it also boosts your metabolic rate. 

36. When cycling, don’t crank slowly in high gear. This can increase the pressure on your knees and lead to overuse injuries such as biker’s knee. Shift to low gears and faster revolutions to get more exercise with less stress on your knees. The best cadence for most cyclists is 60 to 80  revolutions per minute (rpm), though racers cycle in the range of 80 to 100 rpm. 

37. Make sure your bike fits. Handlebars, saddle, wheels, and brakes can all be adjusted to  match your size and riding ability, but the frame has to fit from the start. To find the right frame  size, straddle the bike and stand flat­footed: on a regular bike, there should be one to two inches of clearance between your groin and the top tube. On a mountain bike, it should be three inches or more. 

38. If you’re over 45 (over 35 if you’re at high risk for heart disease) and are beginning a  program of aerobic exercise, see your doctor first for a checkup. If you have been sedentary, you will need to begin slowly. If your doctor can’t give you solid advice, especially about your safe target heart rate, ask for a recommendation for a qualified trainer to help get you started. 

39. If you have a cold or feel one coming on, it won’t hurt to exercise. It’s best to start  slowly and work out less intensely than usual, and see how you feel. If you feel worse, you  should stop. If you feel okay, work up to your normal routine. However, if you have any signs of a more serious infection (fever, swollen glands, fatigue, or vomiting), discontinue your workouts until you have fully recovered. 

40. Do push­ups: they’re among the best upper­body exercises around, can be done anywhere, require no equipment, and are easily adapted to any level of strength. They work muscles in the  shoulders (deltoids), back of upper arms (triceps), and chest (pectorals). The beauty of the push­ up is that it also exercises muscles in the abdomen, hips, and back, which are tensed to keep the  body stiff while it moves up and down.