The sun is shining, and the rain is delivering cool, fresh air. Whether you’re enjoying the beautiful outdoors or taking the heat on the treadmill, follow these simple tips to make the most of your time.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Eating Before Exercising
Proper nutrition is the key to maintaining peak performances, strong muscles, and good health. Although you don’t want to exercise immediately after eating, not eating any food before exercising could lead you to feel more nauseous and lethargic. So, what are some options? Try eating a lighter meal 1.5 to 2 hours beforehand, or a nutrient-dense snack 30 minutes to 1-hour prior. The essentials to a balanced diet for healthy runners/walkers include complex carbohydrates, protein, and good fats, alongside your daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
For instance, try drinking 16 to 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise. When it comes to eating, truly listen to your body. You may feel more comfortable with a hardy, whole-grain bagel with almond butter or with a lighter bowl of oatmeal with berries for breakfast. Or switch out that almond butter with eggs! Did you know that one egg satisfies nearly 12% of your daily protein intake? For lunch, maybe try out a little lean meat or fish with brown rice and avocado. If you plan on exercising after work, but before dinner, then it is recommended you choose the quick snack option. Tasty snack choices could be a banana, low-sugar energy bar, low-fat Greek yogurt, apple slices and/or grapes. In another matter, try to avoid eating any type of legumes, lactose-rich foods, high-fiber vegetables like broccoli, and spicy foods before exercising.
How to Properly Stretch Your Muscles
Try completing each exercise below for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each leg at least once.
- Standing Quadriceps Stretch
If needed, find yourself near secured support, such as a wall. Simply begin by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep back your right foot and grab it with your right hand, then gently pull towards your butt. Your knee should be pointing straight down towards the ground. Repeat with your left leg.
- Straight Leg Calf Stretches
Reset both feet back to shoulder-width position. Then, slide your left foot back, keeping your heel flat on the ground, until you feel a stretch in your calves. Your right knee should be slightly bent and directly over your right foot. Gently push your body forward from your hips without bending your back-leg knee. Repeat with your right leg.
- Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Reset back to standing tall position. Slowly roll your shoulders back and forth several times. Then, stretch your right arm across your body and use your left hand to gently pull your right arm towards your shoulder. Repeat with your left arm.
Complete these stretches, along with any others you find effective, to allow your muscles to feel loosened and ready to get moving!
Mindful Tips to Begin Your Fitness Journey
One of the best tips for running/walking is to focus on your own process rather than the outcome. Whether your outcome is to lose weight or break a PR, don’t allow that outcome to rule over your mind. Instead, try re-arranging that outcome to become a long-term goal. Begin at a pace that you feel comfortable keeping for at least 30 minutes, then gradually increase your speed or add hills to your routine at your own pace. Use each day to become stronger than the week prior, learning patience and enjoying the process!
Find a workout buddy that is similar to your pace yet will push you to give your best effort towards the end. Not every day needs to be a race but learning how to self-motivate yourself when it gets hard or having someone to do the motivating for you will help you to continue to grow stronger.
Enjoy those recovery days, because they are quite necessary! Exercise breaks down muscle tissue and depletes energy stores, known as muscle glycogen. Recovery days allow the body to be replenished and initiates tissue repair. Without proper recovery days, the body will continue to break down, leading the body to become injury-prone.
Grab a friend, incorporate these simple tips into your next walk or run, and enjoy the blooming nature of April.