Expert tips to help you achieve your fitness goals

Author: Canadian Living


Expert tips to help you achieve your fitness goals

When it comes to developing fitness goals, making exercise a habit is key to meeting your goals. Hal Johnson, Canadian fitness expert and co-host of Body Break, shares his advice on how to best achieve your fitness goals and "fit" fitness into your daily routine.

Top fitness tips
1. Plan ahead and think about details
"When you plan (a fitness routine), look forward to it," Johnson says. "If you plan to go to the gym the next day, lay your gym clothes out the night before you sleep. It'll encourage you to get moving."

2. Find an activity you enjoy
Because endorphins are released into the bloodstream when you exercise, "as you do a fitness activity you're going to feel better," Johnson explains. So why not do something you enjoy? Whether it's taking your dog out for a jog, going for a brisk walk with the baby carrier, playing a few sets of tennis or power dancing to a greatest hits collection on your iPod, daily exercise becomes less of a routine and more of a reward when you truly enjoy what you're doing.

3. Motivate yourself and others around you
"Doing an activity with a friend is very important," Johnson says. They can help you achieve your fitness goals, as well as provide advice and inspiration. "(Friends) can get you there, and vice-versa," he adds.

4. Make the most of a half-hour break
"When everyone's out for lunch on a weekday, walk for a half hour," Johnson suggests. If you work close to a gym or other fitness facility, consider hopping on a treadmill at lunch time, or going for a quick swim at the end of the day. Even 10 minutes of active muscle movement makes a difference, according to Johnson. "Simple exercises such as this help to clear the cobwebs in your head. It promotes positive mental health and makes you feel better," he adds.

5. Start off slow when trying new fitness routines
"If you haven't run in awhile, don't suddenly decide to run five kilometres, or you'll put your joints under stress," Johnson explains.

Do a few stretching exercises and give your body enough time to warm up before any strenuous workout. He reminds men, particularly, of this important step, because they're more prone to muscle tears than women are.

6. Move when your kid moves

Johnson brings his daughter to hockey practice five days a week and spends a lot of time in the arena. For parents who follow a similar routine, he suggests using the kids' game time wisely. "Go for a walk while they practice," Johnson advises. Ask another parent to walk along with you for some fresh air; not only do you get to make great conversation, but you also stand a better chance against settling into the bleachers with a double double and several doughnuts.

Page 1 of 2 - Learn more expert tips and top fitness don'ts on page 2.

More expert tips to a successful fitness routine
7. Turn fitness time into quality time

Plan special activities you can do with your loved ones every week. "Bike on Sunday afternoons with your family," Johnson suggests. Fill a book with family-friendly workout ideas and soon you'll have enough to create the kind of treasured memories your kids can look back on.

8. Do something for yourself every day

Let your health become the main motivating factor behind a steady exercise routine, Johnson says, and dispel the thought of working out just because you want to see physical results. A fitness expert for over 23 years, Johnson suggests the following psychological exercise. "When you wake up, think ‘what am I going to do for myself today? What am I going to do to become healthier?'"

Fitness don'ts
• Don't get discouraged when you fall off the wagon
Don't give up if you get a moment of weakness and miss a workout or snack on a few cookies. Johnson encourages keeping a positive mindset. "Remember, it takes 30 days to make a habit," he says. If you've done your fitness routine often enough, getting back on track shouldn't be a problem.

• Don't let psychological barriers get in the way

When it comes to establishing a fitness routine, people often wonder where to start, Johnson says. Though it's easy to enlist help from a trainer at the gym, it can sometimes still feel a bit intimidating for workout newbies to exercise in a room full of fit, toned bodies. Don't let that get in the way of getting healthy. "When you go to the gym, you think everyone's looking at you, but really that shouldn't be the focus of it. Be concerned with getting healthier," he advises.

• Don't think of exercise as something you have to do
Don't think of physical activity as a chore, do it because it's something you enjoy. "If you want to live healthy, to get yourself and your kids healthy, you have to get active," he says. "It takes a little encouragement for sure, but it's worth it."

Most importantly, Johnson says, remember to keep fit and have fun!

Page 2 of 2 - Is incorporating fitness into your daily routine a challenge? Discover Hal Johnson's trusted advice on page 1.

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Expert tips to help you achieve your fitness goals