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all know the benefits of exercising—it helps us look better, feel better, sleep better, and live longer. But sometimes we just don’t feel like it. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to get your body moving! This guide on exercise tips you should try will help get you motivated, whether you need something new to do or just some friendly reminders about what to do when you’re not feeling up to it.


1) Stretch first

Stretching gets you warmed up and ready to go, but also allows you to limber up tight muscles that you don’t even know are tensed. A few minutes of stretching when you wake up in the morning can help keep your body flexible and working at its best all day long. Plus, you’ll feel better and be less likely to get injured if you take a moment before starting a workout to stretch thoroughly. Don’t just pull at your muscles with each motion—hold for 15 seconds or so before moving on to another part of your body.


2) Go down to the floor

Studies have shown that strength-training exercises in which you’re on your knees or hands and pushing against a hard surface can help strengthen muscles more effectively than regular weightlifting. These exercises also happen to be great for your core, which means they have double duty as far as developing a strong body goes. A good beginner exercise is planks: Get into pushup position, but place your forearms flat on the floor and walk your feet back toward your head until you’re in plank pose (so with only your toes and forearms touching). Hold for 1 minute at a time, rest, then repeat two more times.


3) Take your time

When you first begin exercising, it’s often best to start slow. Whether it’s walking or doing some exercises in your home, going slowly allows you to ease into a workout regimen. This is important because pushing yourself too hard early on can be discouraging and make you think exercise is something that isn’t enjoyable. Start with a manageable routine and take your time getting used to physical activity. Over time, increasing your effort level will become easier and easier as you build up stamina and work capacity.


4) Focus on posture

Good posture is important for preventing injuries and looking great, so focus on it. While you’re sitting in your chair right now, make sure that your feet are planted firmly on the ground and make sure that you’re not slouching forward. If it helps, have a friend evaluate your posture to see if it needs adjusting. While sitting up straight might feel uncomfortable at first (especially if you’ve got a history of bad posture), it’ll pay off in terms of pain prevention and aesthetic appeal.


5) Get a good night’s sleep

I know it seems like common sense, but getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is essential to maintaining a healthy exercise routine. There’s no way around it; exercising while tired will lead to poor form and injury. Researchers at Brown University published a study in 2012 that found that when college students performed sit-ups, they had a harder time holding proper form when they exercised after only four hours of sleep compared to those who got eight hours of shut-eye. If you want to lose weight and have more energy during your workout session, get enough rest every night. Your body will thank you for it!


6) Drink water before, during and after

It’s no secret that staying hydrated is important. But some people tend to wait until they are thirsty before drinking, which can cause dehydration and its unpleasant symptoms. To stay properly hydrated, drink water (and other fluids) early and often—don’t wait until you feel thirsty! It takes about a week for your body to get used to its new hydration schedule, so be patient. And once you do make it a habit, you’ll find yourself feeling more energetic than ever before. The recommended amount of water varies by person but we recommend one half of your body weight in ounces per day: if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces or 8 glasses daily.


7) Eat a light snack before exercise

When you’re working out, your body uses up its stores of glycogen (carbohydrates) quickly. Eating a carbohydrate-rich snack about an hour before exercising can help you work out for longer. The general guideline is to eat between 100 and 200 grams of carbohydrates at least one hour before exercise. Aim for healthy carbs like whole grains, fruit, or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots. These snacks will also help keep you full during exercise so that it doesn’t derail your diet plan.


8) Reward yourself afterward with anything but food

When you’re done with your workout, reward yourself with anything but food. Go shopping. Treat yourself to a movie or concert ticket. Catch up on work. Walk your dog. If possible, find an activity that has nothing to do with food, so you can get used to not rewarding yourself in that way.


9) Set small goals

If you’re just starting out, small goals can make a big difference in helping you stick to your routine. Even if your goal is just to get off of your sofa, it’s much easier to start exercising for five minutes each day than it is to commit yourself to go for a run every morning at 5:00 AM. Once you’ve built up a routine and gained some momentum, you can increase your workout time and ramp up the intensity.


10) Be consistent!

If you want to see results from your workout, you have to be consistent with it. The idea of working out for a day or two, and then letting yourself go for weeks or months at a time is not going to help you reach your fitness goals—and it’s definitely not going to make losing weight any easier.

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