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Getting a Better Workout

by Kerrie Meyler
Perhaps you made a New Year’s resolution to be in better shape. Or maybe you just want to be in better shape to feel good, and decide to have an exercise routine. You may have decided to join the gym!  How can you get the most from the time you spend exercising? Here are some tips to keep you from undercutting your workout results.
•Watch your form. Utilizing proper form means you using good posture and technique to perform a strength training exercise, which can help prevent injuries. It’s important to focus on form, even if that means lowering the intensity of your workout. In addition, good posture allows you to take in more oxygen, so your workout feels easier while you’re actually getting more out of it.
•Don’t exercise when parched (really thirsty). Drinking water is important, as it’s a component of nearly every cell in your body. Without water, your cells don’t function efficiently during exercise. If you’re not hydrated, you’ll fatigue faster and your workout will feel tougher than it should. Dehydration also decreases the level of hormones that are necessary for strong muscles. On workout days, try drinking an ounce of water for every 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 hours before exercising; and keep sipping during and after your workout to replenish what you lose through sweat. If you sweat a lot, drink more.
•Reading on the treadmill is bad for your health. There’s nothing wrong with flipping through a magazine to keep yourself motivated, but reading while exercising is distracting, and may have you working out at an intensity too low to burn a significant number of calories. The same is true of actively watching TV while using the treadmill. A better way to pass the time is listening to music to increase the duration and intensity of your workout.
•Don’t hate your workout. If you don’t enjoy your workout, you’ll be less likely to do it and won’t reap the benefits. It doesn’t matter how many calories a particular activity promises to burn; if you don’t enjoy doing it, you’ll be less likely to do it. Here’s some math: if you burn 300 calories every time you exercise, but dread it so much you skip one session a week, that’s 1,200 calories a month you’re not burning. Find a workout you want to do, instead of one you feel you have to do.
•Don’t skip weight training. The vast majority of women forgo weight training (80%, according to a survey by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 24, 2016). Did you know that people who pair aerobic AND resistance training eat less? 517 fewer calories a day than those who only do cardio (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2013).
•Don’t trust calorie-burn estimates. It would be great if those 20 minutes on a cardio machine really blasted 500 calories. But when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Research presented at the National Strength and Conditioning Conference (2010) found that elliptical trainers overstate calorie burn by an average of 30 percent. However, those displays can still be useful as a benchmark for ramping up your workouts. If you raise the number every week, you’ll be making consistent gains.