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How To Track Your Body Fat

 

Many people place emphasis on losing weight, and measure their progress using a scale. However, this isn’t completely accurate, since it’s fat, specifically, that we should be trying to lose. When you lose weight, you may be losing water weight, muscle, or fat. The scale simply can’t tell you which one of these you’re losing. This is why you should make it a point to measure your body fat instead of your body weight.

Why Measure Body Fat?

When you are losing weight, your main aim should be to lose fat and not muscle or water weight. This is because water weight loss is temporary, and losing muscle will slow down your metabolism in the long run. The only way to know if you are losing fat is by measuring your body fat. If you track your body fat and it remains the same, but you are losing weight, you may have to change your weight loss approach.

What is The Normal Range of Body Fat?

The range of healthy body fat varies according to gender and age. Generally, women should have about 20%-30% of fat while men should have between 8%-25% of fat. Anything less or more than this range is unhealthy and efforts should be made to gain or lose fat accordingly.

How Do You Track Body Fat?

There are a few methods of measuring body fat, though a majority involve expensive or large equipment, or are just plain inconvenient. The two methods that are doable at home are the skinfold method, and the height and circumference method.

The skinfold method requires you to have a pair of body fat calipers, which you use to measure standardized areas of the body by pinching the area with the calipers. These measurements are then applied to an equation which will give you your body fat percentage. However, if you don’t want to use the equation, the measurements alone will give you a good estimate if you are losing fat.

The height and circumference method involves measuring different parts of the body using a tape measure and comparing it to a table of standard values to get your body fat percentage. There are many calculators on the internet that use this method to help you determine your body fat percentage, so feel free to try them out. Usually the neck, hip and waist are the areas measured.

You can use either of these two methods to easily estimate your body fat percentage, and track your fat loss progress. Hopefully you will be seeing more fat loss than muscle loss, and to help this happen be sure to eat the right kind of foods and exercise often!

 

3 Disadvantages Of Using Home Fitness DVDs

 

Home fitness DVDs are popular among exercisers who want to cut costs and avoid the gym. While they do have their advantages, using these DVDs as your main form of exercise also has disadvantages that you may be overlooking. Some of these drawbacks are highlighted below.

It’s Easy To Fall Off the Wagon

For most people, working out is an activity that requires a lot of willpower and discipline to make a habit out of. When one has a live personal trainer or has paid money for the gym, he or she is more likely to keep his or her motivation in check when it comes to working out. Working out at home may be convenient, but for the lazier ones among us, it’s an excuse to frequently skip workouts whenever the smallest things come up. It’s easy to start working out using fitness DVDs, but hard to maintain the habit of using them on a regular basis.

Lack of a Real Personal Trainer

While most home fitness videos are hosted by personal trainers, it isn’t the same as having a live one. A live personal trainer, or class instructor, will make sure you are working hard enough, and that you have the right posture and form when performing exercises. While home fitness DVDs usually have intense workouts that require some strain, you won’t have a personal trainer to make sure you are not overdoing it to the level of hurting yourself, or underdoing it so you aren’t getting much from the workout.

Lack of Quality

Home fitness DVDs are inexpensive, but you have to ensure you are purchasing the right ones. Some fitness DVDs are produced by inexperienced parties that present you with workouts that barely leave you panting. What’s worse, some workouts are too intense – if you’re not ready you could end up hurting yourself. This is why it is important to know what your capabilities and requirements are when working out before you attempt using a home fitness DVD, or else you may find yourself not getting the results you expected or worse, unable to work out due to an injury.

As you can see, there are a number of disadvantages that may be encountered when using home fitness DVDs are a form of workout. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t try them at all. They can definitely work, but be sure to stay disciplined and practice proper exercising techniques when using them as your sole form of working out. If you find that home fitness DVDs don’t keep you engaged, then attempt to try other things like running, jogging, going to the gym, or joining dance classes to get your exercise.

3 Benefits Of Using Home Fitness DVDs

 

When the word “exercise” comes to our mind, we often associat it with the gym, expensive equipment, or running for miles. The truth is, exercise doesn’t have to involve leaving your home at all or buying lots of equipment. It can be as simple as purchasing some inexpensive home fitness DVDs. Here are three benefits of getting some home fitness DVDs for your collection at home.

They Are Inexpensive

Most gym memberships cost a bomb, and home fitness DVDs are a great alternative that costs way less. Even though some DVDs require you to have some basic equipment such as light weights, exercise balls, or skipping ropes, these do not cost much and are usually within the budget of the average person. So instead of renewing that gym membership that you hardly ever used, why not cancel it and purchase a few home fitness DVDs?

They Offer Variety

For the average exerciser who often repeats the same exercises over and over or is bored of the repetitive classes at the gym, home fitness DVDs offer a nice change. There are a variety of DVDs available for one to purchase or even borrow from the local library, ranging from basic workout DVDs, to those for sculpting and toning, to those that are dance-based to increase the fun factor. When you get bored of one DVD, you can always switch to another that interests you. No matter what particular form of exercise you prefer, from aerobics to Zumba, there are several DVDs out there to keep things interesting.

They Are Convenient

Exercising couldn’t get any more convenient than when using home fitness DVDs. Right in the comfort of your home, you can pop one into your DVD player and start working out in your living room. There is no gas, babysitters, or going out involved. What’s more, you can work out with your spouse and kids too, if they are willing participants. There’s nothing like some family time to help keep the motivation to work out going.

Remember, there are drawbacks of using exercise DVDs, especially when it comes to keeping yourself motivated. However, if you don’t want to invest in an exorbitantly-priced gym membership or leave your home to exercise (especially when the weather is less than inviting), home fitness DVDs are your best option to get your daily dose of exercise in a convenient way.

How To Commit To Your Exercise Plan

 

Have you decided to start exercising as part of a healthy lifestyle plan, or to lose weight and tone your body? Good for you! Exercise certainly has a lot of benefits, and even as little as 30 minutes a day can make a world of difference to your health. However, you may be struggling to get up and actually get moving on a daily basis, because of the fact that you are used to a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you commit to your exercise plan and make working out a habit in the long run.

1) Make exercise a part of your schedule. This means actually scheduling workout time in your schedule. If you decide that you are going to work out at 6 p.m today after work, then go ahead and write that down. Do this everyday.

2) Be prepared for the workout session. If you plan to head to the gym right after work, then be sure that you bring along the right attire and necessities such as towels, soap if you are planning to take a shower, and so on, so that you don’t have to run home to get these things and have an excuse to not follow through with your plan.

3) Follow through with your exercise plan at any cost. Don’t make excuses as to why you shouldn’t exercise today; instead, make excuses as to why you should. Keep your goal, whatever it is, in mind at all times, especially when you feel lazy.

4) Use other techniques of motivation to keep your exercise fire burning. For example, if you want to be a few dress sizes smaller, then hang a dress of the size you want to be in somewhere in your bedroom in clear view. This will motivate you the moment you wake up to keep to your exercise goals for the day. If being healthy is your goal, then do some reading about the health risks of staying at your current weight, and maybe even write these on a post it note to remind you why you should exercise.

5) If you are a busy person, you have to learn to prioritize your exercise sessions over other activities. Instead of spending an hour drinking with your colleagues after work, be sure to use that hour to work out instead. If you really don’t have much time, remember that a workout does not have to be one long session. It can be four or five workouts of 10 minutes each, thrown in throughout the day. Each session can consist of activities as simple as walking up and down the flight of stairs at your office, walking to a restaurant that is more of a distance away during your lunch break, and so on.

By implementing the tips above, you will be on the right track towards committing to your exercise plan. Good luck and stay moving!

How to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise

 

It’s not uncommon to see people brimming with enthusiasm at the start of their new weight loss or fitness plan. However, the sad thing is that enthusiasm fizzles out within a few days or weeks, for a number of reasons.

Boredom is probably the main reason why people stop exercising. The same walking, running or weight lifting day after day can really bore the strongest adult to tears. Besides that, some people stop because they find it difficult to continue making exercise a part of their schedule, or find that exercise isn’t giving the results they want fast enough. The core of it all is that most of us lose the motivation to exercise, using all the above reasons as excuses.

How Can You Stay Motivated?

The good news is that you can motivate yourself to stick to your daily exercise with a couple of simple steps. The steps are as follows:

1) To kill boredom during exercise, engage in some other activity to keep your mind off it. Activities like listening to music, reading a book on the treadmill or watching television (when working out at home) help take the burden off exercise. Be sure to push your body to work out and not get too distracted, though. You can also switch up the types of exercises you do every day to avoid boredom. For example, lift weights and do the treadmill one day, and join an aerobic class on another.

2) Every move counts during exercise, so keeping track of your exercises and the amount of movements you do in a day can help you stay committed to your exercise plan. You can do this by installing a fitness app on your phone to see how far you’ve walked, or buying a pedometer to keep track of the amount of steps you take daily.

3) Occasionally, you can reward yourself if you managed to stick to your exercise regime. Give yourself a weekly, fortnightly or monthly treat if you’ve exercised the amount you should. Be mindful though that if you are trying to lose weight, food probably isn’t the best reward to give yourself. You can buy a new outfit, get a massage, or do something along those lines instead, that don’t involve food.

Exercise is a necessary element to add to your daily life, so don’t skip on it. Remember though for the best results – and to lose weight – it should be combined with a healthy diet too. Happy exercising!

4 Reasons Why You Should Start To Enjoy Exercise

 

Let’s face it, many of us groan at the mere thought of exercise. It’s not really surprising, as exercise is work, and lots of people these days have become accustomed to sitting down all day behind a desk, or in front of the TV. However, exercise is crucial to our overall health. By understanding the benefits, you can help motivate yourself to get moving again. These benefits include:

1) It helps you lose weight. This is an obvious one, but many people still overlook exercise when they want to lose weight. While it’s true that dieting brings more results compared to exercise according to studies, exercise is proven to help keep the weight off. Those who successfully maintain their weight after a weight loss journey usually reported exercising on a regular basis. Let’s not forget that exercise can do what dieting can’t: tone your body to help you achieve a better looking physique.

2) It helps you sleep better. Regular exercise releases hormones that calm the body and aid good sleep at night. This is proven by several studies examining the effect of exercise on sleep. However, exercise should be done earlier in the day and not right before bedtime, as exercising before sleeping might have the reverse effect of keeping you awake instead.

3) It makes you fitter. Nobody likes to be panting after climbing up a flight of stairs. By starting slow and then gradually increasing your exercise intensity, you’ll get fitter with time. You’ll probably see the difference even within a few days of exercising. Being fitter helps make you feel more active, energetic and it can improve your mental focus as well. Not to mention it keeps you going longer in the bedroom!

4) It keeps away an array of diseases. Frequently exercising is proven to help keep various cardiovascular diseases at bay, as well as strengthen your immune system significantly. Not only that, exercise keeps away depression and diabetes, and improves brain function as well.

Reading through the reasons above, it’s clear to see why you should not skip exercise just because you are too busy or lazy. All it takes to reap the benefits above is 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, which you can do in one go or in three sessions of 10 minutes each. It’s even better if you also do some resistance training and flexibility training a few times a week as well. So go ahead and schedule a jog today. It will do wonders for your health once it becomes a habit.

How To Warm Up Before A Cardio Workout

 

Many people don’t warm up before they undertake cardio exercise. When you’re in the mood to exercise and get that heart pumping, you may want to jump into high intensity workouts immediately before the feeling passes. Or perhaps you want to save time and burn more calories. Whatever your excuse, not warming up before your cardio workout is not acceptable.

Why Warm Up?

Warming up your body before a cardio workout serves a number of purposes, such as:
a) Redirecting blood flow from the organs in your body to your muscles, to help muscle movement and flexibility
b) Preparing your mind for the higher intensity activity after the warm up
c) Increasing your heart rate gradually instead of suddenly, as an sudden increase in heart rate can cause dizziness and other unpleasant sensations during the workout
d) Increasing the flexibility of connecting joints, tendons and tissues.

In short, warming up is extremely important and should never be skipped. It may lead to injury, or impair your ability to work out for days or even months (depending on the extent of the injury).

How Do You Warm Up?

For cardio workouts, warming up is really easy; just do whatever you plan to do for your workout at a low intensity. For example, if you cycle to get your dose of cardio exercise, then just cycle at a slow pace to warm up. Likewise with walking, just walk at a brisk but gentle pace (not too slow, as then your heart rate won’t increase). Ideally a warm up should be done for 10 to 15 minutes, followed immediately by the cardio exercise of choice.

Lots of people wonder if one should stretch too as a form of warm up before a cardio workout. Though experts recommend stretching to be done after the workout during the cool-down period, it’s okay to do some light stretching if you are feeling tight or knotted in some areas such as your ankles, back and hips. After all, if you don’t stretch when your body needs you to, you will just end up feeling uncomfortable throughout the workout.

So now that you know the importance of warming up before your cardio workout and how to do it properly, please do implement a warm up routine before each workout. An extra 10 minutes spent warming up can go a long way in making your workout a more successful one and preventing unwanted injuries.

4 Excellent Fitness Apps That’ll Help You Lose Weight

 

Nowadays, we have a number of tools that can help us stay on track to meet our fitness or weight loss goals. With the increasing popularity of smartphones, fitness apps have now become portable and we can use them no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

Here are four of the best fitness apps that’ll help you meet your goals.

1) RunKeeper

If you’re an avid runner, then you should definitely download RunKeeper to your smartphone or tablet. This free app tracks your location and how far (and how long) you’ve run, and uploads the data to the developer’s website where you can access it for free. An excellent app which can help you see how you progress in your running.

2) SportyPal

This is another free app that should be any fitness enthusiast’s best friend. Even if you’re new to exercise, you can make good use out of this app. The app measures your distance, calories burned, speed and more when you turn it on, regardless of what sporting activity you engage in. If you love outdoor activities like hiking and cycling, the app is also capable of tracking your route. You can then sync all the info saved by this app to the central website to take a detailed look at the stats of your fitness activities.

3) NikeBoom

This app (which is also free, don’t you just love that?) gives you an extra push during workouts by picking out high-energy tracks from your phone’s MP3 database and playing them for you. While this app does not track your progress, all of us know that music affects the way we work out, and this app helps to ensure you listen to the right kind to work out at maximum potential.

4) VirtuaGym

For those of us who are at a loss as to what workouts to do, this Android-friendly app (again, free!) gives you great workouts to try out. The app explains everything you need to know about how to perform a specific workout, and even includes pictures to make things clear. It’s just like having a free personal trainer!

These are just a handful of the great apps out there available for those who want to use technology together with their exercise routines. You can explore the internet for more, find the ones suitable for your needs and, before you know it, you’ll be working out like a pro and losing pounds and inches too!

 

Two Reasons To Skip Your Workout

 

Working out isn’t fun for all of us, and we often make up excuses why we shouldn’t do it. However, there are only two reasons one should skip their workout. Unless you fall into one of the two categories below, then you should stick to your workout goals and get your body moving!

Reason One: You Have An Injury

If you’ve been working out too hard and have injured a joint or muscle, it’s time to skip your workouts until your injuries heal. When a muscle or joint is not in proper working condition and you feel pain, that’s your body’s way of telling you to take it easy for a while. Rest at home and treat your injury accordingly.

However, do make sure you can tell an injury apart from muscle soreness; some soreness after weight training is common and will go away in 2 or 3 days. If what you have is muscle soreness, you can take a rest with the weights but continue with your cardio. An injury basically means a sprained body part, dislocated joint or a torn muscle. If it’s painful enough to stop you from doing your basic every day activities, then it’s an injury.

Reason Two: You’re Sick

Suffering with a terrible cold or down with a fever? There’s your reason for skipping a workout. When your body is fighting off an infection, it’s working hard to do it, so cut it some slack and get some rest. Enough sleep and proper hydration will help you get better faster and be in tip-top workout shape again. Skipping your workout can help also you prevent spreading your illness to others, especially if you frequent the gym a lot.

If your doctor advises you to not exercise heavily because of a particular disease, then listen to your physician. There may only be a limited amount of exercise you can do in this case. And no, illnesses that you make up in your mind don’t count!

Now that you know the only two reasons you should skip your workout, stop exercising if you know you are ill or injured. Exercise may be tough, but it definitely brings a lot of benefit by improving your fitness and strengthening your body overall. Try to get at least half an hour of exercise into your daily routine if possible. It will certainly do you lots of good.

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