If you feel you are always worrying about your health, yet never reaching your goals, consider whether you are making one of these common health mistakes.
Overreliance on steady-state cardio
You need to do more than just mindless cardio. Do interval training two or three times a week. Interval training improves cardiovascular fitness, insulin sensitivity, HDL (good) cholesterol and helps reduce both visceral and subcutaneous fat.
Rather than just a straight 30- to 45-minute bout on your favorite cardio machine, warm up for 5-10 minutes, and then perform a session of interval training. Do the cardio of your choice at a very high intensity for 20 seconds, and rest or go very slowly for 40. Repeat these intervals for 10 minutes if you are a beginner, and slowly work yourself up to 30 minutes as your cardio improves over the next several weeks.
Focusing too much on calories
You need to pay attention to the quality of your nutrition, not just how many calories you consume. If your goal is weight loss, don’t just count calories – eat healthier and exercise.
When you lose weight solely through dieting, the weight you lose will be predominantly muscle. When you lose weight through a combination of resistance training, improved diet and cardio workouts, you lose proportionally more fat and gain muscle. That means you don’t simply lose weight on the scale, you change your body’s shape and composition.
Prioritizing cardio over strength and balance work
Learning to incorporate strength and balance training can make you a stronger and less injury-prone athlete. Staying injury-free is a key part of achieving any health and wellness goal. To avoid constantly being derailed by injury, prioritize multijoint functional exercises such as squats as well as single-leg balance exercises. The inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds or perform a squat have been shown to be strong indicators of future injuries and even mortality.
Setting unrealistic goals
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure your goals respect your health history, current lifestyle, age, gender and genetic makeup.
Don’t aim to have model abs if you don’t have the genetics, a photoshopper at your disposal and the time needed to train. Your goal should respect your available time to train and genetic window. Everyone’s bodies are built differently. You may not have the genes to be an Olympic marathon runner. But you can push yourself to be a faster runner.
Associating exercise with weight loss
Too often people exercise simply to lose weight and when they don’t lose weight immediately, they give up. In addition to any weight-loss goals, aim to have more energy, sleep better, improve your bone density, enhance your mood, increase your strength and even train for a sport.
The more reasons you have to exercise, the more likely you are to stick with it and ultimately achieve your weight-loss goals, which won’t happen if you continually start and stop exercising.
Being lazy the rest of the day
Don’t fall into the trap of believing lifting weights and doing intervals a few times a week means you can be a sloth the rest of the time.
Prolonged sitting negatively affects the cardiovascular, lymphatic and digestive systems, not to mention your metabolism. It is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes, and affects how our bodies metabolize glucose. Move wherever and whenever possible.
Information gathered from the Globe and Mail.