Couch to 5k

[title size=”2″]Couch to 5K Training: 10 Tricks For Sticking To It[/title]
Now that you are well on your way training for the Thanksgiving Day Dana Point Turkey Trot, you’re starting to really feel the benefits of exercise. You feel more energized, you’re clothes are starting to fit differently, and your overall confidence is improving. Don’t lose your stride! Keep exercising and don’t let excuses get in the way of your well-being. Stay on track with these simple tips:

1. Start Looking at Exercise Differently. All movement is exercise. People need to give themselves more options. Take the dog for a walk, bike to the store or take five-minute stretch breaks. If you don’t count something as exercise unless it happens in the gym, goes on for 30 minutes or requires a shower afterward, you’re missing some of your best opportunities to stay active.

2. Think Small. This advice can be hardest for people who expect the most from themselves. If you often think “why bother walking around the block, when I should be running my usual four miles?” Remind yourself that a brisk hike can keep you from feeling that you’ve failed.

3. Set an Agenda. Set a goal, such as increasing the speed, frequency or duration of your activity. Maybe it’s time to train for the Dana Point Turkey Trot’s 5k or 10k, or maybe choose a more simple goal like walking uphill without getting winded.

4. Get off the Beaten Path. Have you ever tried snowboarding, bowling, swing dancing, or body surfing? How about reversing your power walk route or exercising at a different time of day? Physical activity isn’t boring, but how you participate in it can be.

5. Use Your Brain. If you’re new to exercise, try listening to music, watching TV or playing computer games to help you stick with it – but stay aware of sensations that could signal injury or overdoing it.

6. Get an Accountability Partner. Find a friend, mentor or coach to keep you honest. You can either exercise with your partner, or simply check in with him or her to report your progress.

7. Plan Ahead to Stay Active. Plan to park farther from the office and put your walking shoes in the car the night before. Plan to take that new yoga class next week, and call the babysitter now.

8. Face Your Fitness Foes. If certain obstacles continuously get in the way of your exercising, identify them right away. If vacations throw your exercising schedule out of whack, projects at work overtake your activity time, injuries sideline you, or you get bored easily, you need to face your challenges head on! Fitness foes can be beaten once they’ve been identified. You can change your vacation style, set work limits, get guidance for injury-free activity, find new challenges, and face your fears with counseling and support.

9. Go Tribal. Even if you’re introverted, the presence of others in your exercise environment can be motivating. We pick up on other people’s exercise vibes. Choose places and times to exercise where there will be other people who are actively involved in exercise.

10. Use a Script. We tell ourselves things like “skipping this one little walk won’t matter all that much.” Next time, be prepared with an answer for this excuse. Use images of past successful experiences to remind yourself of how good exercise makes you feel. Or, repeat a simple phrase to yourself such as “Every little bit makes a big difference.” If you use planning, flexibility and imagination, you won’t ever need to feel like a dropout again.

How to Find the Right Exercise For You

How do you find the right exercise? Do you answer the quizzes in the magazines, watch other people in the gym, listen to your best friend, or try the latest crazes? Has anything worked?

I prescribe workout plans to the simple idea of body type. Are you a banana, apple or pear? All three types have their own characteristics that include body fat and muscle. Your body type is determined genetically and truly can be enhanced by your type of workout.

The banana, or the ectomorph, is characterized by higher body fat and has a difficult time building muscle. They generally have long limbs, feet and fingers, and do not gain weight very easily. They are considered “skinny” and often times too skinny. We see many of them running long distance races, which unfortunately only enhances their body type. I recommend resistance training programs for the banana to build more muscle mass and create strong bones, since this is the body type more prone to osteoporosis. The banana should cut down on their cardio to build muscle and may create more curves by swimming, using the water as resistance.

The apple, or the mesomorph, is characterized by an up-side-down triangle shape. They are those “fit” people that we see in Southern California. They are generally more lean and muscular, although if they do gain weight, it is in their upper body. A common belief is that mesomorphs have it made, with their strong and athletic builds. However, women especially, find themselves being too bulky too easily. I recommend a combination of equal cardiovascular exercise combined with weight training for the mesomorph, to keep a good combination of lean muscle mass and body fat. The mesomorph is able to keep their muscles longer and less bulky by adding yoga or Pilates into their program. The combination of movement, posture and breath control in these two types of exercise can create a less bulky look.

The pear, or endomorph, is a body type characterized by a smaller upper body with more curves or body fat around the hips and upper thighs. This body type has strong legs and a smaller, less muscular, upper body. Most women and some men fall in to this body type. While endomorphs have a tougher time than other body types in losing fat, they are often just as fit as other body types.

For pears, who usually carry extra fat around the lower abdomen, hips and thighs, the key is to start with a program that burns calories instead of a lot of strength training. The extra weight they carry can cause increased pressure on lower joints such as knees, hips and feet, so it is important for pears to at first avoid engaging in exercises that can add stress to these areas. That means trading high-impact exercises like tennis, jumping rope or other activities that involve intense and repetitive movements for low-impact cardio workouts like walking or biking. Light weight training is also important to increase mid and upper back strength.

The most important aspect of any effective exercise program is to find the one that is right for you, mentally and physically. By doing the appropriate exercises for your body type, you will achieve your desired goals faster, and you will find yourself motivated to stick with it.