By: Brittany Schneider
You spend countless minutes exercising outside, at home, or at a gym, but are you getting the most out of each session? Below are just a few important aspects to take into account to make sure you are getting as much as you can during each workout.
Water makes up more than 66% of the human body. With that being said, making sure to hydrate before, during, and after exercise is fundamentally important for a successful workout session. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that individuals drink roughly 17 ounces of water two hours before exercise. During exercise, ACSM recommends to starting drinking early and at regular intervals. Depending on your body, the type of exercise you are performing, and the environment in which you are working in, water intake will vary. In general, if you are a heavy sweater you will need to take in more water since you are losing more through perspiration. Also, if you are exercising in a warm/hot climate, you will need to take in additional water.
Proper Food Intake
- Pre-workout: The goal of food intake before your workout is to provide fuel for your body. Make sure to eat something that is easily digestible 60 minutes prior (or just before) to your workout. Keep meal simple. Low in protein, fat, and fiber as these three substances delay the stomach from emptying. They also keep you full longer, which is good if you will not be eating for a period of time, but not helpful if we are looking for quick fuel Try a few different food items to see what works best for you.
- During Workout: If you are working out for 60 minutes or less, just make sure you are taking in enough water. No additional food is necessary. For workouts lasting longer than 60 minutes, you will want to take in additional carbohydrates (example: small banana) to supply glucose to working muscles.
- Post Workout: Make sure to feed your body a recovery meal within 30 minutes (1 hour maximum). Consume carbohydrates in order to replenish glycogen. A little bit of protein is great to add to a post-workout snack. Research shows that the best recovery snack is eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein (4:1 ratio – meaning 4 grams of carbohydrates for every 1 gram of protein).
Consistently sacrificing a good night’s rest is a no-no. When you sacrifice sleep you are welcoming some potential health issues such as colds and flus, heart disease, diabetes, lack of brain function, and possible obesity. Not to mention, probably a not-so-fun workout session. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an adult needs roughly 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Aim for at least 7 hours each night and experience the benefits.
Finding the right exercise attire can be a hassle, especially if you are new to exercise. The key is you want to be comfortable and have the ability to perform exercises in a full range of motion. For clothing, you do not want to wear something that is too tight, yet you don’t want to be wearing baggy clothes either. Wearing too tight of clothing can be non-functional and hinder your exercise performance. Wearing too loose of clothing can get in the way of you exercising. Choosing the right footwear really depends on the type of physical activity you are performing. Visit a shoe store and talk with an employee about the type of exercise you are performing (running, biking, weight lifting). They should be able to direct you in the right direction.
Don’t ignore proper form when exercising. Letting this important factor go to the wayside will lead to ineffective workouts as well as put you in a greater risk of injury. Whether you enjoy doing yoga, lifting weights, running, swimming, or biking, learn the proper techniques. One way to learn proper form is to take a lesson or meeting with a personal trainer.
Proper breathing during your workouts will help you complete exercises more efficiently. It can also mean the difference between completely and not completing a specific exercise. When you breathe properly during exercise you can avoid getting dizzy due your blood pressure rising, you can avoid hyper ventilating during strenuous exercises, and you can improve your athletic performance (distance, time, weight, etc.). When performing cardiovascular exercises, your goal is to find a consistent breathing pattern that works for you. Just do not hold your breath! When performing strength exercises, your goal is to breathe out (exhale) on the exertion (or effort) portion of the exercise. For example, during a chest press, you will want to breathe in at the top or while you are lowering the weights to your chest and then breathe out while pushing the weight overhead.
- Column, Elaine Magee, MPH, RDWebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert. “What to Drink When You Exercise.” WebMD. WebMD, 03 Jan. 0000. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/what-to-drink-when-you-exercise>.
- “Food to Fuel Your Workout.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/food-to-fuel-your-workout?page=2>.
- “How to Breathe for Every Type of Exercise.” Greatist. Ed. John Mandrola, Dr. Jordan Shakeshaft, 17 May 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <http://greatist.com/fitness/how-breathe-every-type-exercise>.
- “The Healing Power of Sleep.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-benefits-10/healing-power-sleep>.