Exercise Tips & Tricks

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults under age 65 should do eight to 10 strength training exercises twice a week, along with 30 minutes of moderate cardio, five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous cardio, three days a week. But just knowing what you’re supposed to do doesn’t make actually doing it much easier. Sometimes you have to be clever enough to trick yourself into, and through, a workout.

Countdown

Try counting down from the total number of reps you’re doing instead of counting up from zero. This makes the finish line seem like it’s getting steadily closer, instead of looming in the distance behind that final rep.

Change it Up

Add as much variety as possible to your workout program. Cross training, or even just switching exercise programs every few weeks, helps keep your body guessing and challenges it to continue adapting and improving, as opposed to settling into the dreaded plateau.

Eat Right

Heed the Mayo Clinic’s advice on how to time exercise and eating: Limit yourself to small meals or snacks within the three hours before you exercise, then eat a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates, such as apples and cheese, within two hours after you exercise.

Commute Wisely

Turn your morning commute into a chance for exercise. Ride your bike, rollerblade, or at least walk or jog to the subway stop instead of driving. If you absolutely must drive to work, park down the street or at the far end of the lot and walk in. You’ll arrive energized and invigorated for the rest of your day, not to mention a few calories lighter.

Play

Not only are sports, recreation and games—both indoor and out—fun, a chance to socialize with other like-minded souls and an opportunity to build new skills, they also burn calories. According to Harvard Health Publications, you can burn anywhere from 75 to over 500 calories in half an hour, depending on your body weight and which sports or what type of recreation you choose to pursue.

Bring a Buddy

Having friends along doesn’t just make exercise more fun. It also renders you accountable. If you cancel on your workout buddy, she’s going to want to know why. Positive peer pressure, plus the extra fun factor, will help keep you on track.

Adapt

Adapt your workouts to the conditions. If it’s such a pretty day that you can’t force yourself to go into the gym, don’t. Get your cardio in by running or walking outside instead, and use small hand weights, resistance bands or body weight exercises for strength training.

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.