Thursday, January 31, 2013

8 Important Dos and Don’ts of Running for Fitness & Weight Loss

Many people start running because they want to lose weight and get in shape. Running burns more calories than most sports and its easy to do. All you need to do is put on a pair of running shoes and you’re ready to go. As easy as it is to run, if you’re running for fitness and weight loss there are some steps that will help you, and some things to avoid.

Do Start Small

The “weigh” he was Camp America commandant los...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many people get so gung-ho about running that they head out the door and push their body further than it is ready for. The result? Several days to recover and a lot of aches and pains. You can also injure yourself by doing too much too soon. And it’s a good way to lose your desire to run before you really get started.

Don’t Overeat

Many people mistakenly come home from a run and pig out. Running for an hour burns around 500 calories. Let’s assume you run for thirty minutes, burn 250 calories, then come home and have a hamburger and a cookie. We’ll you’ve now eaten probably twice what you burned off. In a month you’ll have gained two pounds. Not lost! That’s frustrating. Count your calories to make sure you’re burning more than you’re consuming.

Do Have a Plan

What is your running goal? For example, are you running to lose weight? Great, how are you going to achieve it? If you run for thirty minutes a day you burn approximately 250 calories each run (more in less time if you use the interval method). In a month you will have lost two pounds. Decrease your calorie consumption to lose more weight quickly.

Don’t Neglect Hydration

Did you know that dehydration often mimics hunger? We eat when we should be drinking. And if you’re running you need to drink more. Your body loses water by sweating when you run. Water flushes the toxins from your body too. Make sure you drink enough and when you feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water first.

Jogger and the Dogwalkers
(Photo credit: kh1234567890)
Do Have Fun
Running doesn’t have to be a chore or something you have to do to lose weight. It can and should be fun. It’s up to you to make it fun. Listen to music. Run with friends or your dog. Run on trails or sign up for a race to challenge yourself. You can join a running club too and surround yourself with like-minded people.

Don’t Forget to Take Time Off
Most experts recommend taking one rest day each week. And consider making running part of an overall fitness plan. For example, you might run three days a week and do yoga or swim two days a week. One day you can strength train and then you have your rest day. Adding variety and mixing it up will make you more likely to enjoy your workouts and stick with them.

Running improves your cardiovascular system - especially if running and walking in intervals. It boosts your metabolism, improves your sleep and reduces stress. All of those benefits help you lose weight and get in perhaps the best fitness of your life. Enjoy running and the benefits it brings you, by following these simple tips.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Get Started Running for Health & Fitness

Interested in running but not sure where to start? Running can be one of the most powerful ways to change your life. It is, of course, a tremendous calorie burner. However, running offers so much more than weight loss. Running helps you feel successful. It boosts your energy levels and libido. It improves your ability to sleep and manage stress too. Ready to get started?

Step #1: Make Sure You’re Okay to Run

If you’re struggling with any health conditions it is important to talk to your doctor first. Running often helps reduce or eliminate many health conditions. However, it’s important to get medical clearance and learn the precautions that may apply to you first.

Step #2: Get Your Shoes

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...
A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You really don’t need any special running gear or equipment but you do need a good pair of shoes. Visit a running store where they can take a look at your foot type and recommend the best pair of shoes for you. A good pair of running shoes can make running easier and it can reduce your risk of injury. (Check out our previous blog post on choosing a good running shoe to learn what to look for. If you're running in the winter, be sure to dress in layers, and see our winter running gear guide article for more tips.)

Step #3: Find Your Style

There are many different places you can run. For example, if you enjoy nature you may enjoy running on trails. If you value convenience then you may prefer to run in your neighborhood or on a treadmill. Decide where you want to run. What’s your running style?

Step #4: Run!
Now it’s time to get out and run. However, if you’ve never run before it’s also important to take it slow. Experts recommend starting by alternating walking with running. You can use a clock to time yourself or you might simply use landmarks.

For example, I’ll run to that next stop sign. The first time you head out you may want to simply walk for a few minutes until your muscles are warmed up. Then run as long as you can. Then walk again. Pay attention to how long you run and how long you walk. This is your foundation. Now, the next time you head out you can aim to run at least one minute more than you did last time. Eventually, you’ll be running the full time or distance. (Keep in mind that if you just want to lose weight, alternating running with walking may be all you need to do. Using this interval-style method burns more calories from fat, and boosts your metabolism around the clock.)

Marahon shoes
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Step #5: Step It Up

Once you’re meeting your initial goal, which may be to run for 20 or 30 minutes or to run for a few miles, it’s time to take a look at your future. Evaluate your reason for running and create a new goal that supports your reason.

For example, if you’re running to lose weight then you may want to add intervals to your running program. Intervals are short bursts of intense energy and they help you burn more calories. (See note above.)  If you’re running for general health and fitness, competitively, or just because you enjoy it, you may want to add distance to your daily run or sign up for a race.

The most important takeaway here is to start slow. As a new runner it takes time to condition your body. Have patience with yourself and stay positive. Every step you take is a step toward better health and fitness.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Video: Yoga Exercises for Arthritis - Shoulders & Back

This video gives some gentle and helpful yoga exercises for easing arthritis pain and improving flexibility and range of motion for your shoulders and back. Doing these regularly can really help restore function and mobility for those with back and shoulder issues. (I don't have arthritis, but I do have a lot of stiffness in these areas, and these exercises feel great!)  Be sure to work at your own level, and don't strain or push yourself beyond where your body wants to go. She shows some modifications for those with limited mobility.

(Note: You may want to adjust your speakers - this one's a little on the quiet side.)

Yoga for Arthritis: The Shoulders and Back (Part 1)
The first 'Yoga for Arthritis' back sequence. Follow the stretches in the seated Cat Pose move to build and maintain mobility in an arthritic, sore, or stiff back. The shoulder poses are good for anyone with arthritis in the shoulder joints, or previ...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Video: Knee Strengthening Exercise for Arthritic Knees

This short video demonstrates a very easy exercise that can help strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee, relieving and preventing pain caused by arthritis or injury. Doing this simple exercise on a regular basis can help you build up your strength and protect your precious knee joints from harm.

Knee Exercises - Arthritis Knee Exercise 2/8
Arthritis on the Knee can be devastating but performing some Arthritis Knee Exercises will help strengthen the muscles that help protect the knee. Even if you have Arthritis you still need to be able to workout the muscles in your legs to be able to ...

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Importance of Exercise for Preventing Arthritis

Your bones hang out in a lot of joints. Knee joints. Hip joints. The joints in your fingers and the joints in your toes.

Wherever bones meet, there is also cartilage, a rubbery, protective layer that ensures your joints bend smoothly and painlessly. But even cartilage cannot do this tremendous job alone. A thin membrane called the “synovium” provides fluid that lubricates the moving parts of the joint. When the cartilage wears out and the synovium becomes inflamed, the result is generally a case of “osteoarthritis”.

English: Knee femur cartilage Ελληνικά: O χόνδ...
Knee femur cartilage(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage can be eroded so much that bone does rub on bone. This type of arthritis develops gradually over a lifetime as a simple result of the wear and tear placed on your joints over the years. Very few people escape some degree of osteoarthritis, though the severity varies a great deal.

As a matter of fact, if you are over the age of 50, you are likely to have at least one joint affected by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis affects men and women equally and is by far the most common type of arthritis, with almost 16 million Americans in the list.

Exercising Your Prevention Options

Investing a little time in developing a good weight-bearing low-impact exercise and stretching plan can add up to great results when it comes to staving off arthritis pain. Strong muscles help protect the joints from wear and tear, and the movement keeps joints flexible.

That is why the quest for fitness is so important, no matter your age - even if you are 50 years and over. However, the unfortunate truth is that most Americans over 50 are still right where they always were - sitting back and watching others jog by. Most of them contend that that is just for people who have been athletic all their life, or some say exercise is for young people and engaging in exercise now will do them more harm than good.

There are still some that insist they do not just have time or they don't have the energy to exercise anymore. These are all lame excuses. In truth, regular exercise will actually increase your energy - and give you more time (to live, that is).

Preventing arthritis is not an exact science, but physicians have discovered a few ways to lower your risk.

1. Don't "weight" around

The single most important measure anyone can take to prevent osteoarthritis of the knee is to lose weight if they are overweight. Extra weight puts extra stress on your knees. If you are 10 pounds overweight, for example, you put 60 pounds per square inch of extra pressure on your knees every time you take a step. That extra pressure can slowly but surely erode the cartilage in your knees, leading to arthritis.

Numerous studies have clearly supported the theory that weight loss weighs in on the side of prevention. In one study, overweight women who lost 11 pounds or more over a 10-year period decreased their risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee by 50%.

Cover of "Preventing Arthritis: A Holisti...
Cover via Amazon
2. Stretch those muscles

Any kind of stretching is good as long as you do not bounce, which can lead to a muscle pull. This is according to some of the professors of clinical medicine in New York City.

Try to hold a slow, steady stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, then relax and repeat. It is best to limber up by stretching before any exercise, especially running and walking. But it is also a good idea to stretch each day. Stretching lubricates and works your joints and keeps them in good working condition. Ask your doctor to teach you stretches that focus on potential arthritis trouble spots, such as the knees or the lower back.

3. Walking is one of the best and easiest forms of exercise

Take a good long walk at least three times a week or participate in a step-aerobics or low-impact exercise routine for maximum results. There is no proof that running is bad for the joints, but remember, it may aggravate an injury if you already have one. Just remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

The bottom line is that of all the healthful habits, exercise is the most important. This is because people are designed to be active. Hence, it is really important for people to exercise in order to stay healthy and keep those joints well lubricated and free from wear and tear.

Just keep in mind that the unexercised body, even if currently free from symptoms of illness or problems like arthritis, is not at its full potential. Getting a fun, enjoyable and maintainable exercise program in place is one of the best things you can do for yourself this year!
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Video - 4 Minute Fat-Burning Cardio Workout with Exercise Bike

Not only does this workout kick your butt, but it is super-easy, and only takes 4 minutes! (Be sure to warm up and cool down first - when you add these on, the entire workout should take about 10 minutes total - not bad for a workout that makes you sweat, increases your heart rate, raises your metabolism, and strengthens and tones both upper and lower body!) 20-second "sprints" are interspersed with 10-second "cool down" segments. This intense interval method is what boosts your metabolism, so you are getting additional fat burning for more than 24 hours after your workout is done. If you've got an exercise bike, or just have a few minutes to use one at the gym, this short workout done at least every other day may be all you need to  achieve your fitness and weight loss goals this year!

Check out the 2-minute demo, and then try this on your own - it's so simple it's easy to remember!

4 min Fat Burning Cardio Workout w/ Exercise Bike
Try this Quick Fat Burning Cardio Workout using an Exercise Bike with Tabata Intervals.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Choosing An Exercise Bike

When you decide to purchase an exercise bike, you should first make sure you have a place in your home where you can put it.  If you don't have a lot of space, or just don't want to keep it sitting out, you'll want to look for one of the foldable models. Then, you'll need to think about whether or not you want an upright exercise bike, a semi recumbent bike, or a recumbent exercise bike.

English: Stationary bicycle Česky: Rotoped Deu...
Stationary exercise bicycle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once you have made the decision of which type of bike you want, check out the reviews that are available in bike magazines and also on the internet - is a good place to check, even if you don't plan on buying from there, as they have a lot of models, and an active user review community. You may also want to check with family and friends who are currently using an exercise bike, to see what their experience has been. Another good resource is personal trainers who have experience.  The reviews on exercise bikes normally rate their performance and the functions that they have, as well as the type of material that is used for construction.

The exercise bike that you select should be very comfortable to sit on and the seat should be easy to adjust.  If the height of the seat is wrong, it can put a lot of pressure on your groin and lower back.  To find out more about these types of features, it is very important that you read some reviews for valuable information from those who already own the equipment.  Often you can learn about flaws as well, which can save you a lot of time and effort.

Going to local gyms is also a great way to find out about exercise bikes.  And of course, if you don't want to buy one or if you don't have the space to keep one at home, you can always join a local gym and use one there.  But even if planning to buy one, you may wish to try out some at the local gyms and see what you like the best. There are usually several different types available at your local gym, with everything from standard exercise bikes to the newer electronic versions.

Whether you choose to buy one for home use or use one at the gym, an exercise bike can help you stay in shape.  All you need to do is ride it a few minutes a day, and you'll be amazed at just how much it helps you lose weight and gain strength and stamina. An exercise bike can be a very beneficial part of your cardio interval training workout.

A Few Well-Reviewed Exercise Bikes:
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Indoor Equipment For Getting Fit

When it comes to aerobic exercise, you might find that you get a better workout on a machine rather than actually running or jumping rope. Remember that like every part of a healthy workout routine, aerobic exercises need to be tailored to your body and what is best for your health. You'll need to work together with your doctor and your personal trainer if you have one to develop a system for working out that works for you, and to make sure that whatever you are doing it is the best for your body and your mind as well.

Treadmill (Photo credit: Bitman)
Machines have become very popular when it comes to working out because sometimes they are easier to use and easier to get used to. You don’t have to worry about running outside when it is cold out or finding a way to fit getting to the gym into your busy schedule if you have a machine in your home that you can use.

The point of an aerobic workout is that you are getting your heart rate up and you are getting into shape. You can do this on a machine as well as by running or jumping rope.

There are several different machines that you might want to try. The two easiest and most popular would be tread mills and exercise bikes. On both of these, you'll find that you can get a great work out. The point of an aerobic work out is to get your heart rate going, so if you are riding a bike or walking or running on a treadmill, you are going to be getting some aerobic exercise (just be sure not to overdo it - long-duration aerobic exercise actually doesn't do you many favors, as we've discussed recently; short intervals give you the best results).

The reason that these two machines are so popular is that they are handy. Riding an exercise bike can be something that you do in your living room no matter what time of day or temperature it is when it's time to work out. Treadmills can also be handy, and with either of these, you can get all of the exercise that you need right at home. (Keep in mind that treadmills may take up more horizontal space and be harder to store. They are also higher impact than a bike, so a bike would be my first choice.) Check back Thursday for some tips on choosing a good exercise bike.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Video: Fun Winter Sports Ideas

Most anyone who has heard of Minnesota knows it's a cold and snowy place in the winter. Those who live there make the most of it by enjoying a wide variety of winter sports - keeping in shape and having fun, regardless of the weather! From skiing to snowboarding to snow shoeing and more, this video offers some fun ideas for exercising in winter - even if you don't live in St. Cloud.

Check it out and get inspired to get outside and enjoy the great winter outdoors!

Winter Sports in Granite Country - St. Cloud, Minnesota!
The St. Cloud Minnesota area gets a lot of snow ...and we love it, because there is so much to do in the snow! Skiing, snow tubing, hockey, ice skating, sledding - even indoor sports like basketball and swimming thrive in central Minnesota all winter...

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Keeping Warm & Safe During Winter Sports

Many people love to engage in various sports for fun and exercise that take place outdoors during the winter months. However, it is vital that you know how to keep yourself warm so that you don’t become ill or suffer from frostbite. It is also important that you stay hydrated as your will lose body heat if your body is lacking the right amount of water to regulate your temperature.

English: Canadian winter sports, snowshoeing a...
Canadian winter sports, snowshoeing and skiing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Since you don’t really know what the temperature is going to be like from one moment to the next in winter, you just have to be prepared for it. While it may warm up during the afternoon the temperature can rapidly dip in the late afternoon and evening. You will likely generate body heat to stay warm if you are engaging in a winter sport that keeps you moving such as ice skating, skiing, sledding, or ice hockey.

Dressing in layers is a very important for you to stay warm during winter sports. There are particular types of clothing that work well for various sports so pay attention. You want to have three distinct layers of clothing – the base layer, the under layer, and then the outer layer.

Underneath the clothing wear a cotton undershirt which will allow your skin to breathe. For winter sports such as skiing you will want to wear thermal underwear and then a snowsuit and ski jacket. Hats and gloves with thermal linings are very helpful too. Most of the body heat a person loses is from their head so a hat is very important when being outside for any prolonged period of time.

The boots or shoes you use for a particular winter sport are very important as well. They need to be designed to offer you plenty of traction as well as mobility. They need to keep your feet dry and warm so you won’t suffer from frostbite on your toes. If you're a runner, there are special tennis shoes designed for running in the winter time that will prevent you from slipping due to ice or snow.

Various types of foods and drinks can help to keep you warm during winter sports as well. Soups and stews are very nutritious and they will keep you warm. Hot drinks such as coffee, tea, coca, and cider will help to warm you up as well. Enjoying these types of foods will also serve to help you maintain your energy while enjoying winter sports.

English: Winter Sports Moor Howe On Easter Mon...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pay close attention to the signs your body gives you to warn that you aren’t staying warm enough during winter sports. You don’t want to find yourself far away from shelter and extremely cold. Knowing where you are at and where you can find shelter from the cold is very important. Hypothermia can set in if you get too hot while engaging in winter sports and then the sweat from the process makes you cold. You will lose too much body heat this way so pay attention to the physical abilities of your body.

Enjoying winter sports is a great way to have fun and to keep your body healthy. However, it is very important that you do everything you can to stay warm. Serious injuries or death can occur if you aren’t prepared for the elements. Make sure you also have a cell phone, food, blankets, and flares stocked in your vehicle. You never know if you will get stranded driving to or from any type of winter sports activity. You always want to be prepared. Make sure you have at least one other person with you as well.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Speed Skating for Fun & Fitness

Speed skating has become a very popular winter sport, but some critics claim it is simply too dangerous for most people to be engaging in. Many people enjoy watching speed skating during the Winter Olympics and then want to engage in the activity on their own without proper training. The speed of travel in this type of sport can be more than 30 miles per hour so if you fall down or collide with someone else it can be quite dangerous.

In order to reduce the risk of injuries during speed skating, it is vital that safety gear is worn at all times. This includes a helmet that fits properly, knee pads, and elbow pads. It is best for this sport to take place on an ice rink that has been specifically designed for it instead of out on a frozen pond somewhere.

Speed skating marathon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In professional speed skating there are pairs of competitors on the ice. Each track has two lanes and each person in a pair will get a colored band. This tells the judges which lane they started at for the beginning of the competition. The skaters have to change lanes at a given location along the track to ensure both skaters are covering the same amount of distance.

There are many different types of races that take place in the winter sport of speed skating. If a pair of teams are racing against each other they will start at different locations on the track. This prevents them from being in the way of each other and their times are tracked by the judges. For marathon speed skating races everyone starts at the same location and there is plenty of bumping and pushing as the skaters try to get ahead of each other.

However, speed skating does offer a great way for people to get into shape and to enjoy a fun new form of exercise. It takes plenty of practice to build up enough strength to successfully participate in this sport. The type of skates you will use for speed skating depend on the type of events you are participating in.

Long distance speed skating requires you to use clap skates. They are different from regular ice skates because they feature a hinge on the boot that the blade is attached to. This allows the skater to move faster and to have more control over the skates because part of the blade is continuously in contact with the ice.

English: Speed skating in the Netherlands
Speed skating in the Netherlands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are plenty of speed skating events around the country (and even the world) for you to participate in. Find a partner that is just as interested in the sport as you are so you can train with them. Many people have a goal of one day being part of the speed skating teams in the Winter Olympic Games. While not everyone can be a part of that, there are plenty of other events you can easily be a part of while you continue to improve your skills.

If you decide to engage in speed skating you need to make sure you have skates that are designed for it. You also want to make sure you always wear your safety equipment so that you minimize your risk of injuries. Speed skating is quickly becoming one of the most popular winter sports and you can expect to see more people participating in it in the near future.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Video - Setting Effective Fitness Goals

This video gives you some excellent pointers for setting fitness goals and sticking with them throughout the year. He mentions the 5 areas where you need to set goals in order to see best results, and also warns you about some areas where people often slip up and lose motivation (for example, trying to measure weight loss instead of fat loss - bad idea).

He also discusses the importance of setting specific goals, with a time deadline to meet, and most of all creating the "why" for pursuing the goals you set, which gives you a positive mindset towards achieving them.

Check this out, and follow these tips to achieving your exercise and fitness goals for 2013!

Fitness Goal Setting personal trainer and healthy lifestyle coach, Darin Steen, discusses the important things to consider in a fitness goal setting.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gear Guide for Running In Bad Weather

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every day was sunny and temperate? It sure would make it easier to run (or perform other types of outdoor activities). However, the weather just doesn’t behave like that in most places and if it did, it might be boring.

snow, cold weather, umbrella, two persons, 20
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There’s something fun about running in the rain or the cold. It wakes you up and challenges you to work harder. The key to a safe and fun bad weather run rests in your gear choices. Here are a few recommendations and tips.

Protect Your Feet

In cold weather you will likely want to wear warmer socks. Yet it can be difficult to find socks that are warm but not thick. Thick socks won’t fit inside your running shoes, or can make them too tight which inhibits circulation. Consider wool socks. There are some wonderful wool socks designed for running. They wick away moisture and keep your feet warm. They’re also good for running in warm weather too.

Rainy, slushy weather also results in wet feet. Wet feet mean blisters. Sock choice is important. However, you can also protect your feet with gaiters. Gaiters are little water proof sleeves that strap over your shoe and rise above your ankle. They sit on the outside of your shoe to keep the water out.

Stay On Your Feet

In the winter trails and sidewalks can be slippery. There are a few solutions to help you stay on your feet and off the ground. YakTrax are one brand of traction device that straps to the outside of your shoe. MicroSpikes are another option. They screw into the bottom of your shoe to provide traction. There are many choices to consider depending on where you run and the thickness of ice you’re dealing with.

Strickstrumpfhose 1
Lined tights. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Stay Warm

Many times you don’t need much to keep you warm even on the coldest of days. True, you may be chilly for the first half mile. However your body warms up quickly when you run. On the coldest of days consider wearing a hat and gloves. Wool is a favorite however fleece and other materials work well too.

Tights keep your legs warm. Standard tights may not be enough on cold days. You may want to look into buying lined tights. They’re wonderful under snow pants for sledding, snowshoeing, and skiing too.

Upper body warmth can be found by wearing layers. A silk or thermal base layer topped by a thin fleece and a windbreaker should be enough to keep your body warm. If not, consider adding a vest to keep your core warm.

Get Waterproof

Not everyone wants to be protected from the water. Many waterproof items don’t have the ability to breathe. However, if you dislike being wet consider looking into water resistant instead of water proof. Several main sporting lines have recently come out with water resistant fitness wear to protect athletes in inclement weather.

Bad weather isn’t a reason to stay indoors. With a little planning and preparation you can run in just about any type of weather. You may find that these runs are the most fun - enjoy the brisk air, the crunchy leaves or the winter wonderland around you!

Bad Weather Running Gear:
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why Rest Is Important For Your Exercise Goals

It's that time of year again: Time for New Years Resolutions! It's the time when so many people decide to get healthy, get fit, and set some exercise goals for the year. So it might seem odd that we're starting off the year talking about rest - but it's actually an important factor for achieving success with your fitness regimen this year.

English: BALTIC SEA (May 23, 2007) - Lt. Steve...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When you get started on a workout routine, you want to keep it going strong, but you have to remember that it is possible to do too much.  Working out as much as you can, for as long as you can, and as hard as you can, is more likely to get you injured than in shape.  Our bodies require regular rest to heal and to function optimally.

Every time you work out, you create damage in your muscles and other tissue.  It’s often too small to really notice, but it’s still there - that's why you get sore after a workout.  Resting your body allows these tiny injuries to heal themselves.  If you don’t get enough rest between workouts, these tiny problems can add up to a larger, more serious injury.  Rest also gives our muscles time to build themselves, so if you never get adequate rest, you won’t see significant improvement.  Not only should you take adequate rests between each individual workout, you should also alternate light and heavy workouts during the week, and have a much lighter week every 6 weeks or so. 

In addition to just “taking a break” between workouts, you need to get adequate sleep at night as well.  Not only does sleep help us rest and relax our brain, it also allows us to relax and repair our bodies.  Not getting enough rest will leave you sluggish, not at your peak performance, and will eventually even make you ill.  While it is recommended to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, you should remember that each person is different.  Some need only 5 or 6 hours of sleep to function properly, while others may need 9 or 10 to feel refreshed.

Yoga (Photo credit: RelaxingMusic)
One type of rest people don’t usually consider when thinking about a workout is rest from stress.  A workout provides stress to our body, but it’s not the only thing that does. If we are mentally and emotionally stressed throughout the day, it shows physically.  If your body is in a constant state of stress, your muscles won't relax and heal, even when you’re just sitting still.  If you are showing symptoms of fatigue and feel overworked, you should try adding yoga, Pilates, or even meditation to your routine. These will truly relax your body and mind, and allow it to get the rest it needs - at the same time as giving you a nice workout! 

If you don’t rest between workouts, get sleep at night, or take the time to de-stress, you’re not only more at risk for getting hurt, you’re probably also pretty tired.  If you don’t feel like you have the energy to get out of bed in the morning because you’ve worked out too hard, chances are you probably won’t feel like exercising either.  By doing too much too soon, you’re actually likely to decrease how much you work out in the future.

So remember, working harder isn’t always better.  Set a plan to reach your fitness and exercise goals for the year, but remember to add rest time into your program. You'll end up getting more out of your workouts, seeing better results, and finding exercise more fun and enjoyable. Take the time to relax and let your body prepare for its next challenge.   
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