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Doing squats, pushing yourself to the limit and then having absolutely no motivation to workout a couple days later? We’ve all been there. It can be hard to keep up the motivation to workout, but it doesn’t have to be.
In the latest episode of Better At, we're talking about the ways to optimize your at-home workouts and the gear that can make it easier. But before you even get started on any kind of routine, you’ll need the right prep to stay in top form.
Stay hydrated before your workout
Before you step anywhere near your weights or yoga mat, you’ll want to make sure that you are well hydrated. It sounds simple, but a lot of people show up to their workout already dehydrated and that can impact your performance and even affect your recovery.
A reusable water bottle is a must-have, and you can take the work out of keeping them clean by investing in a water bottle that actually cleans itself with UV light. This water bottle from Larq eradicates 99.99 per cent of bacteria and viruses, for a clean and fresh bottle every time.
Keep your workout time consistent
There’s various conflicting studies on this, but most experts agree that consistency is important when it comes to sticking with a fitness routine. Find a time that fits your schedule and try to exercise at that same time every single day, which makes it part of your schedule as opposed to something you are trying to fit in.
If you are feeling unmotivated, some research has shown that including a reward can help make exercise a habit. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a square of dark chocolate, or for some people that may even be seeing your progress mapped out. If you’re strapped for space, there's even cardio equipment that's foldable, like this compact exercise bike.
Take your workout outdoors
While building a home gym is a great first step, you can also consider taking your workout outdoors. One study found that people who exercised outside were more energetic than those who did not.
There is a growing body of research on this but studies are even showing a strong correlation between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, and even some links to improved immune function. So why not get some exercise and all those benefits at the same time?
Use your brain to your advantage
Besides embracing the power of the great outdoors, another tip to getting the most out of your workout is to crank those tunes. The type of music you listen to can have an effect on your workout performance, and one study showed that songs with 130 to 140 beats per minute actually gave participants a performance boost.
Another study found that those who listened to music after their workout had higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that are linked to fostering recovery. Using fuss free wireless headphones certainly helps when you’re on the go, since there are no cords to get in your way.
Our brains play another important role in the effectiveness of our workout. There are various studies that support the theory that just thinking about the muscle you are working can help with form and performance. One study by the University of Michigan found that just cueing subjects to focus on their glutes while doing leg exercises resulted in muscle activity in their glutes doubling. If you are not into lifting weights even using bands or portable workout kits can help you target those muscles.
Don’t knock a walk
While it’s important to incorporate a range of physical activity, from aerobic exercise to strength training and mobility, one thing is for sure: don’t discount the benefits of a walk. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that participants with a walking program had improvements in blood pressure, resting heart rate and even depression scores.
Psychologists have also found that a 10 minute walk may be just as effective at relieving anxiety as a 45 minute workout. If you want to amp up your walking routine, adding light ankle weights can do just that.
Focus on recovery
For your muscles to properly recover from a workout it’s important to look at the whole picture. What are your stress levels? Do you feel like you have time to rest and recover? Taking time to meditate and calm your mind can be beneficial not only mentally which we know but also to your physical recovery as well.
Using a foam roller is a great idea as it can boost circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system which can help to eliminate toxins. One study found that massage after a workout can even improve muscle strength. A foam roller with vibration might even be the ultimate recovery tool, since there’s some evidence to suggest that vibrations may help reduce pain while foam rolling releases tight muscles.
So what are you waiting for? Roll out your yoga mat, grab those weights and get better at home fitness.