We all know what regular exercise can do for our bodies and minds, but sometimes all those reasons just aren't enough for you to make it to the gym. Exercising takes time and energy out of your day — and on those days when you don't have any to spare, it can be the first thing to drop off the to-do list. And even if you do have time, resting and relaxing (or meeting up with friends or shopping or basically anything else) can sound so much more fun than an hour-long sweat session. So tell us, what's the biggest reason that keeps you from working out regularly?
Wearing a cute gym outfit can help motivate you to work out, but some days, you need to kick it up a notch. These tees and tanks are stylish and feature inspirational messages to help you get into your workout groove. Motivate yourself and your fellow gym rats with these picks!
The start of the school semester can upend the schedule (or lack of one) you've perfected all Summer. Fitting in classes, studying, and time with friends can make it seem easy to just skip out on a workout in order to make your day manageable. Don't sabotage yourself with the "I'm too busy" excuse; stay on track with these tips for setting up the perfect workout schedule.
Look at the whole picture: You should be proud of yourself every time you complete a workout, but look at your entire week to ensure you're fitting in enough activity. Aim for two strength-training sessions a week and enough cardio to help you meet your workout goals. In general, try for 300 minutes of activity a week, which you can break up into whatever works for you (for example, five one-hour-long sessions a week).
Block out the time: You know you can't skip calculus class (as much as you want to!), and your workout should be just as important. Now that you know how much time you need to work out during the week, block out each session on your calendar like you would any class or appointment — it will make it harder to skip when you're trying to fit everything into your day.
Add it up: A day that starts with an early morning class and ends with a marathon study session leaves no time for a long workout. Don't feel guilty on those days; just make a point to ride your bike, walk to class, or take the stairs. Those few minutes of movement will really add up by the end of the week.
Choose the right time: If you know your Tuesdays and Thursdays are jam-packed with classes, then wake up an hour earlier those days to do a workout in your dorm or go on a run with a friend. If you have a long break in the middle of the day, then wear your exercise clothes so you can fit in a no-equipment workout on the quad or a quick trip to the gym. Be honest with yourself, and don't schedule workouts that always coincide with your social life; if you know the lure of going to a party with friends will be too hard to pass up, then you're setting yourself up for failure. When it comes to your busy college schedule, fitting in exercise can take a little thought, but the results are worth it.
Shorter, colder days will be here before you know it, so take advantage of Summer by fitting in a workout tomorrow morning. Here are five reasons that will convince you.
- Morning calm: It's hard to get out of bed when on pitch-dark Winter mornings, so take advantage of the fact that Summer sunrises help coax you out of bed.
- Beat the heat: With midday temps climbing into the unbearable zone, get your workout over and done with before the searing sun changes your mind.
- Fatigue-free: Humidity and heat can drain all the enthusiasm for an after-work sweat session. Waking up a little earlier to fit in a workout instead will get it out of the way while also giving you more energy throughout the day.
- Evening plans: It can be hard to coordinate with friends and family amid everyone's hectic Summer schedules, so why not free up some time during the evenings by switching to a morning workout?
- More calorie burn: Working out before a long day of work and errands zaps you of all your energy means you'll end up burning more calories in the same amount of time.
Whether a gym membership is too pricey or you woke up too late to hit your favorite yoga class, you can still get in a good workout at home. The hardest part is getting beyond all the distractions and responsibilities and having the willpower to get your sports bra on and get to it. Here are some ways to inspire those home workouts, so they actually happen.
- Don't clean up: I'm referring to your fitness gear here. Have a designated area devoted to home workouts and leave your equipment out. It doesn't have to be a large space, just enough room for a mat, some weights, your laptop for watching videos, or a fitness ball. Or leave dumbbells and a resistance band by the couch — seeing your gear out will turn on a little switch and remind you to use them.
- Designate a drawer: We've all had that moment where you're running around your house trying to find the missing match to your favorite pair of wicking socks, and you get so frustrated and waste so much time that you end up missing the workout. Don't let not having an outfit to wear keep you from exercising. Keep one of your dresser drawers organized neatly with a variety of clean fitness clothes, so you can easily find what you need, put it on, and get sweating.
- Bedroom yoga: Keep a yoga mat unrolled on your bedroom floor next to your bed. Once you're in your PJs with your teeth brushed, it's hard not to step on the mat without hopping on for some pre-bedtime stretching. Here's a relaxing yoga sequence to help you drift off to sleep.
- Pin it: There are tons of printable workout posters available, from seven-minute HIIT workouts to five-minute leg workouts to plank workouts for your core. Print them out and hang them up in your home gym or on the wall next to the TV to inspire some strengthening moves, even if you only have a few minutes.
Keep reading for more ways to inspire home workouts.
Evening workouts can take a lot out of you; after a long day, you still need to fit in a sweat session before you can go home and relax. Keep your after-work exercise routine a positive part of your day with these tips for streamlining your evening workout.
Get out of those clothes: It can be easy to fall into a habit of staying in your workout clothes if you're going directly home after the gym, but spending too much time in your workout outfit is bad for your skin and your clothes. Take a shower at the gym before you go or switch out of your outfit when you get home, and use these tips for washing your workout clothes to keep your clothes from being permanently stained and smelly.
Whip up a protein-packed dinner: Not that your grumbling stomach needs any more encouragement to eat ASAP, but it's important to eat a protein- and carb-filled dinner within two hours of your workout in order to build and repair those muscles. Keep your kitchen stocked with essential healthy pantry items, so you can whip up one of these quick protein-packed dinners that are perfect for after the gym.
Don't binge on the couch: You should give yourself some much-needed rest after a long day and workout, but don't undo your hard work with a five-minute ice cream break on the couch. Relax after dinner with a soothing cup of herbal tea or portion out your dessert before you enjoy it to make sure you aren't just eating empty calories right after you've spent all that time burning them off.
Pack your bag: Keep the momentum going by cleaning out and repacking your gym bag before you go to bed. Making sure you throw those sweaty duds in the laundry basket and pack your bag with the next day's outfit will keep your bag germ-free, while also making it that much harder to make excuses when tomorrow's evening gym trip time comes around.
Ever wonder what is going on chemically in the body while you sweat it out at the gym? The euphoric feelings during and after exercise, as well as the muscle soreness that might just come a day later, don't just appear magically. Your body is made up of millions of chemical reactions, which result in different physical and mental feelings. Take a look at some of the top hormones and chemicals that are released when you workout.
These chemicals are released by your pituitary gland, which is located in the base of your brain. Endorphins make you feel exhilarated and happy and block any feelings of pain, so you can power through any discomfort caused by exercising. That's why people become addicted to strenuous forms of exercises and experience "runner's high."
Estrogen determines whether carbs or fat fuel the body during an intense exercise session. Women tend to burn fat for fuel, while men tend to burn carbs, because women have higher estrogen levels. When women undergo menopause, they usually experience some weight gain because of lowered estrogen levels.
Has your enthusiastic bikini shape-up waned into just the occasional Summer workout? It's time to reassess your habits. Here are some quick steps that can help you get back on track with your routine.
Make a plan: It's hard enough to stick to a workout routine even without the craziness of Summer plans, so it's especially important to get your workouts on the books if you've succumbed to the "too-busy" excuse one too many times. Make sure you add your workout to your phone's calendar or pencil them into your daily planner at the start of each week. Scheduling when you'll actually exercise will help ensure you plan around your workouts, not skip them.
Stop the sabotage: Relaxing Summer days can mean you're finding it easier to give into high-calorie indulgences, and while it's important to give your diet wiggle room, being too lenient when it comes to Summer treats can cause major damage. All those barbecues and happy hours aren't helping either, so make sure you choose wisely at your next social gathering with these simple Summer swaps.
Up the intensity: Showing up is half the battle, but if you want to see major changes, then you've got to keep your workout's intensity high. That's easier said than done, of course, when days are hot and humid. But don't let the weather get the best of all the work you've put in so far. Make sure your workouts are still high-intensity enough to rev up your metabolism and up your calorie burn. Trade your regular workout for a cool swim, or wake up earlier to fit in a workout when it's too hot; these tips for exercising in the heat will help too.
Tomorrow marks the official start of Summer, which means warmer weather and shedding clothes. But you don't have to panic at the thought of getting back into a workout routine if you've slacked off. Start anew with these trainer tips for getting back into a healthy routine.
It's common sense: The thing about living healthfully is that a lot of it is just common sense, says celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. When you can make a few healthy changes, do it. It doesn't take much thought to know that moving around more burns more calories than sitting all day, or that you can get your exercise for the day by walking to the store instead of driving.
Every little bit counts: Harley also says that remembering this can also help you make the common sense decision. Instead of thinking of exercise as a huge daunting, boring task, think of your goals in smaller increments. When you walk around, every step or healthy food choice helps you to your goal.
See more expert tips after the break!
The start of any new fitness regimen can be full of many unknowns, like how much you should be exercising and how to do basic strength-training moves. One more important aspect of your new exercise routine you shouldn't ignore? Finding the right fit for you.
While it can be easy to sign up for the closest gym or just tag along with your friends to Pilates class, if you don't take time to find a workout you actually like, then your new beginner's enthusiasm might wane into pre-workout dread — and neglect — before you know it. So take time out to try everything to find what you really love, says Natalie Uhling, a kickboxing and SLT Yoga instructor who found her perfect fitness fit — loud music and lots of movement and intensity — after a lot of trial and error. "I've tried every exercise you can imagine," she told us. "I know what I like."
Follow Natalie's advice and think outside your exercise box. "Take everything. Even if you're like, 'Oh, that description doesn't sound like something I would do' — take it all," she advises. Once you've figured out your fit, take note of what gets you excited to work out. "Do what's best for you, not what your friends do and not what someone's telling you to do," she says. "Do what you love to do, and then you'll be able to incorporate it into your life." And don't let embarrassment keep you from trying that new hip-hop dance class. "Don't be afraid to try anything," she adds. "I've looked like a total fool in tons of classes."