We all know how important fitness is, but getting started can be challenging because there’s so much to take into consideration. For instance, which gym is your best option, which exercises should you be doing, how often should you work out, are you doing the exercise correctly?

But before you resign yourself to becoming part of your living-room couch, spare a thought for the commitment and routines of the hundreds of men and women participating in the Games. Whether it’s bobsledding, ice hockey, figure skating or cross-country skiing, these athletes have to stay in tip-top shape to compete in their respective fields.As a matter of fact, the aspiring Olympian spends an average of 8 hours a day, 7 days a week training body and mind in order to be the best in the world.

Fortunately you’re not working towards scoring a gold medal, and you don’t have an entire nation’s hopes pegged on your performance. So, you have the luxury of training at your own pace – and having fun doing it.

Did you know?



    • Exercise should be some form of daily physical activity that you enjoy.

    • It helps control weight.

    • It helps reduce stress and improves mood.

    • It combats disease and other health issues.

    • It can put the spark back into your sex life.

    • Any physical activity (walking, housework, jogging) helps you burn calories.

    • The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

    • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores is also good exercise.



Whether you want to run a marathon, shed a few kilos or just keep your heart in good shape, these four strategies used by Olympians can help you reach your goal:

Dedicate time


An hour of exercise a day is first prize, but if you have other commitments, even 30 minutes can be effective.

Build a foundation


Avoid going straight into heavy training – you might injure yourself. Begin the journey towards your fitness goal with a period of time that involves slowly building endurance, strength, flexibility,balance and cardiovascular conditioning.

Focus on technique


By repeating movements over and over again, the human body can learn how to perform a skill with laser-like efficiency.

Use a coach


There are very few Olympic athletes who don’t work with a coach or trainer. Not only does this remove the mental hassle and stress of handling details such schedules and training, it also provides accountability, motivation and precise direction. If you can’t afford a coach, invite a friend to join you.

The right foundation


A balanced fitness training programme is key. Include these five elements to create your routine:

Aerobics


Also known as cardio or endurance activity, aerobics is the cornerstone of most fitness training programmes. It forces you to breathe faster and more deeply to maximise the amount of oxygen in your blood.

Strength


Do strength training at least twice a week to increase your bone strength and muscular fitness. It can also help you maintain muscle mass when you’re on a weight-loss diet. You don’t need expensive equipment to do strength training. Hand-held weights, an exercise band or homemade weights work just as well.

Core


Core exercises help train your muscles to brace the spine and enable you to use your upper and lower body muscles more effectively. It includes exercises that use the trunk of your body without support, including abdominal crunches. You can also try various core exercises with a fitness ball.

Balance


These exercises are especially great for older adults to maintain or improve balance. Try standing on one leg for increasing periods of time to improve your overall stability. Activities such as tai chi can also promote balance.

Flexibility


Stretching is good for increasing flexibility and allows you to easily do activities that require greater flexibility. It’s also important to stretch before and after any workout.

REMEMBER: Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise programme, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time or if you have a chronic health problem.

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