Making physical activity a part of your everyday life does more than burn off a slice of pizza or a cupcake -- it can actually help build your confidence and improve your mood. Sticking to a regular exercise routine, be it cardio or strength training, works like an all-natural pick-me-up; it helps decrease fatigue and wash away a bad mood for regular exercisers, according to a 2008 study published in the “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.”
Strength Training Basics
Filled with dumbbells, barbells and beefy guys, the weight section of the gym might seem like a girl-free zone, but this area is key to getting toned from head to toe. Strength train at least two days a week, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and aim to hit all of your major muscle groups — your legs, hips, abdomen, back, chest, arms and shoulders — by the end of the week. Try to do eight to 12 repetitions per exercise with a weight that has your muscles feeling fatigued by the end. Begin with one set per exercise and gradually build to two or three sets.
With just a few moves, you can target all of the major muscles in your upper body. These moves can help you achieve toned arms, a sleek back and a lifted bust. A routine with bicep curls, tricep dips, pullups, lat pulldowns, chest presses and reverse flyes hit all the essential muscles. The pullups target your shoulders and your latissimus dorsi, which runs down your back. The lat pulldown focuses on your upper back and latissimus dorsi. The reverse fly helps develop your upper back and shoulders.
Sleek legs are the best assets for any outfit from skinny jeans with a pair of heels to a simple pair of shorts and flip-flops. To get a set of defined stems, target your glutes, hips, thighs, quads, hamstrings and calves. A few moves that target all of these muscles include barbell squats, hack squats, leg presses, the bilateral leg press, dead lifts and calf raises. To do hack squats, hold a barbell behind your legs with an overhand grip. It should be positioned at the bottom of your buttock. With feet flat, squat down until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. The bar should be behind your lower leg. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Healthy adults should aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio exercise most days of the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you are aiming to lose weight, bump this number up closer to 60 minutes most days of the week. This doesn’t have to be all at once. You can fit cardio into a hectic schedule by breaking up your exercise time into several 15 to 20 minutes sessions. You’ll still reap all the same health benefits such as reducingthe risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Examples of moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, riding a bike, playing double tennis and water aerobics.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Human Kinetics: Four Easy To Perform Upper-Body Strength Exercises
- Bodybuilding.Com: Lisa’s Lower Body Workout
- ExRx.Net: Barbell Hack Squat
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies For Weight Loss And Prevention Of Weight Regain For Adults
- Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Exercisers Achieve Greater Acute Exercise-Induced Mood Enhancement Than Nonexercisers
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.