Stop Sabotaging Your Exercise Routine

Exercising isn’t always easy. Whether it’s a full schedule, a lack of motivation or feeling tight on time, there’s no shortage of exercise barriers. With all of that said, though, there is no doubt that the benefits of exercise far outweigh any of the obstacles.

Making time for routine activity is only half the battle. To ensure that your body is reaping all the health benefits that exercise has to offer, make sure you aren’t making these common mistakes:

Mistake No. 1: Not keeping an exercise chart or journal. A record tells you how far you've come and when it's time to go to the next level. Noting improvements in your heart rate will also provide motivation. Check it 15 to 60 minutes after exercising -- you'll see a decrease in this number as your heart gets stronger.

Mistake No. 2: Not writing down goals. Studies show that people who chart short- and long-term goals accomplish more of them.

Mistake No. 3: Strength-training the same muscles on consecutive days. This prevents proper recovery and growth. Allow one to two days before working the same muscle groups.

Mistake No. 4: Holding your breath. Proper breathing is almost as important as proper form. Exhale as you lift, and inhale as you lower.

Mistake No. 5: Not eating enough protein. To lose weight and tone up, your plan should include cardio, strength training and a lower-calorie diet that's high in protein -- about three-quarters of a gram per pound of your ideal body weight. More protein enhances the effects of exercise and decreases fat without muscle loss.

Mistake No. 6: Being distracted during workouts. Reading or watching a complex TV show can actually slow your pace. Instead, listen to energetic music or try a sitcom (just be sure to place the screen at eye level for better performance).

Mistake No. 7: Ignoring flexibility and balance training, especially before exercising. Both are key to overall fitness.

Mistake No. 8: Not asking for help when you need it. Seeking the help of a personal trainer is a great way to achieve your fitness goals as quickly and safely as possible. These experts can design an exercise program to meet your fitness goals, keep you motivated and adapt your training as you progress.

Mistake No. 9: Eating the wrong foods at the wrong time. If you’re a morning exerciser, eat a post-workout meal with protein and healthy carbs, such as an egg and whole wheat toast or oatmeal with berries.

If you're an evening exerciser, schedule a healthy lunch about four hours prior. Eat a healthy carb, such as fruit, about 30 minutes before your workout.

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