Year after year, one of the top resolutions Americans make is to get in better shape. Whether it’s starting an exercise routine, eating better or simply getting in more steps, people set goals to improve their health.
And with the crazy year that is 2020 ending (thankfully!), things won’t be any different. This is especially true because so many people have spent most of the year home due to social distancing requirements.
Not only did this change in routine have an impact on the amount of physical activity we engaged in, but likely changed our eating habits too. Add to that increased stress levels, and the end result may have been a few unwanted pounds — even for people who are usually active.
Exercise is not only good for our bodies, but it’s also a fantastic way of reducing stress. On top of that, information from leading health agencies suggest healthy individuals are less susceptible as a whole to the serious implications of the Coronavirus — and illnesses as a whole.
So, while it’s great to kick back and watch Netflix as an escape, don’t forget to make fitness part of your daily routine too!
Overindulging during the holidays is something everyone does, and even the best-intentioned fitness lovers end up taking time off from the gym. While overindulging is an accepted practice from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, it can be a little disheartening to find you’ve put on weight and it’s even more disheartening if you only discover your weight gain when you go to put on your favorite pair of shorts when warm weather returns.
But don’t feel bad about your holiday-induced woes! Gaining weight during winter is normal, and you can spare yourself from a lot of negative feelings by committing to two simple practices: ask for one piece of workout equipment every year during the holidays and weigh yourself every day starting January 1st. I personally recommend getting a digital, BMI scale (many of which now have apps to help with reaching and monitoring fitness goals).
Weighing yourself every day will keep you on track whether you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain your weight. When you have to look at your body weight daily, you’ll feel more motivated to eat less and exercise more. But you can only get exercising, of course, if you have the proper equipment.
The most common fitness tracker on the market is the Fitbit, with Garmin (more known for GPS navigation systems, starting to gain traction in the arena), but there are tons of smart watches available that do more than just track your steps, heart rate, and sleep. If you’ve never worn a fitness tracker, we highly recommend trying one out because you’ll feel more motivated to exercise when you can actually see how sedentary you’ve been. Most watches now also come with interchangeable bands, so no one has to know you’re even wearing a fitness tracker.
If you and a friend plan to exercise together, go for a watch like the Fitbit so you guys can compete with each other via the Fitbit app (for example, the weekly step challenge lets you, your friends, and friends of friends compete for the most steps in the workweek). If you find that you’re flying solo one day, Fitbit also offers tons of one-person challenges to help you meet your step goals.
We’ve also experimented with the FitStar program, which provides you with a massive library of workouts that are categorized by which areas they target, length of workout, and level of difficulty. At only $40 for an annual subscription, FitStar is cheaper than a gym membership and more convenient because you can do nearly all the exercises without equipment and within the comfort of your home.
For more information, check out this blog post – How to Use a Fitness Tracker to Help You Get in Shape
Toned arms and shoulders will actually make your waistline look smaller even if you haven’t lost weight, and a set of adjustable dumbbells is a great way to tone up in the privacy of your own home. If you do decide to give FitStar a try, these dumbbells will be a welcome asset since many of the exercises have options for using weights or not.
A lot of ladies are afraid that if they exercise their upper body, they’ll turn into She-Hulks, but this will only happen if you’re using steroids. Some women will develop a more chiseled look (depending on their natural musculature), but it’s atypical for ladies to end up super bulky without medicinal intervention.
If you aren’t looking to really tone your upper body, dumbbells can be used to tone your legs, butt, and even your abdominals, and if you combine your dumbbells with another piece of exercise equipment, like a home-use step machine, you can get a total body workout that focuses mainly on your legs, but still tones your arms, chest, and shoulders.
If you can afford one or have a super generous Santa, a home gym is another option worth checking out.
You may think there’s no way you (or anyone giving you a gift) can afford a recumbent bike, but you can find them for under $200, which is less than a membership to a spinning club or to participate in spinning classes at your local gym.
Recumbent cycling is great for people who don’t have access to a pool, but other exercises, such as running, are too hard on their joints. These types of bikes allow you to recline slightly, which helps keep your back in a neutral position, so you can really focus on toning your legs (if you can’t lean into the pedals using your body weight, your legs will do more work).
We recommend the recumbent bike if you’re just looking to get your legs in shape and lose some weight, and if you tend to enjoy cycling anyway. When exercise goals fall through, it’s usually because the person doesn’t enjoy the type of exercise they’re doing, so experiment a little to find the exact exercises you like!
Trampolines have a bad reputation for being dangerous, but it’s actually rare for people to get seriously injured jumping on one, and most trampolines today have been upgraded with safety in mind. If you’re just looking to lose some weight, a fitness trampoline is not only fun, but usually comes with some extra equipment (like resistance bands) to help you make the most of your workout while jumping.
For folks who’ve never been on a trampoline before, jumping is a phenomenal workout. After an hour or so, you’ll likely be exhausted. Don’t feel bad if you’re out of breath or winded after only a few minutes of jumping—unless you’re an endurance athlete, that’s totally normal.
If you’re worried about your kids losing weight, especially if they’re going through an adolescent chubby phase, buying a family-friendly trampoline at Christmas is a good way to encourage them to work out and have fun without making them feel self-conscious about their bodies. It’s also a good way for you to bond with them while all of you exercise together.
Trampoline basketball is incredibly popular and very, very fun, and there are specialty trampolines that are wider and come with a basketball hoop. For kids and spouses who aren’t inspired to go out and play naturally, having a fun and engaging game set up in the backyard will bridge the gap between exercise and fun.
Cardio workouts are very popular for weight loss, but more and more people are beginning to see that cardio should be supplemented with weight lifting to maximize weight loss and to help keep the fat off by replacing it with muscle. Women especially tend to go for cardio over weights, and part of that has to do with not knowing what exercises to do, not knowing how to use certain machines, and being too afraid of doing the exercise incorrectly in front of others.
A workout book, like Strength Training Anatomy by Delavier, will help you see exactly how to do each exercise and exactly which muscles the exercise is targeting, including the muscles that are only being partially used. Not only will you learn more about your own anatomy, but you’ll be able to do some of the most common and uncommon exercises better than 90 percent of the folks in your gym.
Using a workout book will also reduce your chance of injury because most books have pictures and written instructions, as well as pictures of how NOT to do the exercise. For someone new to the gym or to strength building in general, Strength Training Anatomy couldn’t be a better gift.
Another option for those of you who want something a bit less strenuous, but still great for toning and fitness, is to pick up a home yoga video.
Even if your exercise goals for the New Year fall through at some point, don’t be disheartened! Try to get back to your exercise routine, and if you find yourself struggling with it because you don’t like it, experiment with other exercises until you find something that really inspires you to stay fit and healthy.
For more fitness inspired ideas and information, take a look at these articles
- September is Yoga Month – 8 Health Benefits of Yoga
- Celebrate Yoga Month – 5 Weird and Wonderful Yoga Classes to Try
- The Best Sweatproof Earbuds for Running, Exercise and Working Out
- Look Trendy At the Gym – A Guide to Buying Women’s Running Shoes
We love fitness, but not as much as we love helping people meet their fitness goals! To browse tons of exercise equipment reviews, check out TopProducts.com. Buying exercise equipment is hard because it requires lots of research, so let TopProducts do the research part for you.
August Wright, TopProducts Staff Writer