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Today’s post is a guest post written by Sheila Olson of Fit Sheila. She writes on topics related to fitness and health. I’m happy to have her here on The Naturopathic Mama as a guest contributor, where she shares great information on getting the most out of your fitness routine:

Much attention is given to the importance of physical activity in achieving a healthy lifestyle. And for good reason — exercise plays a key role in overall wellness. However, there is more to a good fitness routine than pushing yourself to the limit every day. In order to get the most out of your routine, it’s also important to eat a healthy diet, warm up and cool down before and after workouts, make time for rest, and eliminate distractions. This article will explain why.

Healthy Eating

What you eat has a lot to do with how well you are able to perform during exercise. Nutrition is the fuel our bodies run on, so it’s essential to eat the right things at the right time. Breakfast is critical. Not only can a healthy breakfast lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, but it also helps to get your muscles and brain properly functioning for the day. Opt for breakfast foods that are rich in protein and fiber. Protein is also essential in the other meals and snacks of the day because it helps your body and muscles grow and repair.

Eating a healthy diet sounds great to almost everyone, but it can be difficult to follow every day. A couple of options that can help you stick to your goals are meal prepping once a week and using a meal delivery service. A local meal delivery or grocery service can make eating nutritiously much more convenient, and they also offer lower-calorie options.

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Another part of a solid fitness routine is making sure to warm up before a workout and cool down afterward. Preparing your body and allowing it to recover with walking and stretching will improve your athletic performance and help protect you from preventable injuries. When you warm up, you gradually start to raise your heart rate and body temperature, which increases the blood flow to your muscles. This helps your muscles from getting overly sore and reduces the likelihood of injury. When you cool down, your body is able to gradually recover from a heightened heart rate and body temperature, which helps to regulate blood flow.

Rest and Recuperation

The time between workouts is also important because it’s when your body repairs and strengthens itself. Depriving your body of rest and recuperation will hinder your performance, make injury more likely, and maybe even lead to concerns like anxiety and depression. Along with the physical reasons for resting, it can also help you to keep your work and home life balanced with your fitness routine. How often and for how long you take a break depends largely on the intensity of your workouts. For instance, if you were in a HIIT program, you would need more significant rest than you would if brisk walking was your exercise of choice.

It’s common knowledge that working out releases endorphins, which increase happiness. However, you can continue this feel-good phase while resting between workouts by finding something that makes you feel joyful. If you like a good story, pick up a book or watch a movie. If art is your passion, start a new watercolor painting or take a class. If you’re interested in music, consider learning to play an instrument, but be sure to do your research first. For example, if you wanted to try the saxophone, it’s a good idea to first explore your options before buying.

Logging Out

This one may not be as paramount as the other factors in achieving a solid fitness routine, but it’s nonetheless beneficial. When you’re at the gym, get off Instagram, Facebook, and/or any other social media sites. While these can be used as motivation during certain types of workouts, they are more likely to threaten your self-esteem and serve as a distraction from your goals. And we all know that there is ample time to be on social media outside of the gym. Try instead to be in the moment and fully embrace your workout.

A good fitness routine consists of more than just a string of intense workouts day after day. It’s essential to focus your diet and eat healthy options for each meal and snack. For your body to recover and repair, you need to warm up and cool down, as well as allow time for rest. Finally, try putting your phone away during workouts so that you can focus on your goals.

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