From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Activity mistakes and misconceptions can trip you up on the road to fitness, cause injuries and get in the way of enjoying your activity. Here are five of the most common mistakes I hear about - and tips on how to avoid them.

Here are five of the most common mistakes I hear about - and tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Believing there's only one right time to work out

  • Solution: Contrary to what many people think, there is no time of day that will give you better results, whether you're working on weight loss or cardio endurance. So if you sleep through your alarm and miss your planned 6 am run, don't write off the day - try to fit in activity after work or in the evening. The best time to work out is the one that works for you. Becoming active is a lifestyle and you need to make it a priority.

Mistake #2: Setting unrealistic goals

  • Solution: We all need goals to motivate us, but aiming too high - say, trying to lose 50 pounds over two months - will set you up for failure. Break your goals into components - perhaps one pound a week for four weeks - and share them with friends and family for extra motivation.
  • Find tips on setting smart activity goals.

Want to lose weight? Get free help, including a plan tailored to your individual needs, with the My Heart&Stroke Healthy Weight Action PlanTM.

Mistake #3: Obsessing about slimming one trouble spot

  • Solution: Spot reduction is a myth. Unfortunately, the place you most want to lose weight, whether it's belly, hips or thighs, is likely to be the place where pounds will cling most stubbornly. So doing 100 crunches a day won't flatten your stomach - and it will mean those muscles miss out on the rest they need to repair and strengthen. A good schedule mixes activities that combine strength and aerobic health. For example, try jogging on Monday, weight training on Tuesday, and tai chi on Thursday.

Mistake #4: Fuelling up with protein shakes or bars after a workout

  • Solution: Unless you are an elite athlete or have been instructed by your physician, you don't need protein supplements; eating a well rounded diet will provide all the nutrients you need to live an active life. The urge you feel after working out is usually dehydration. Try a glass of water before reaching for more food.

Mistake #5: Limiting yourself to bare minimum activity

  • Solution: Canadians are recommended to get at least 150 minutes of activity a week, in a combination of strength and aerobic activity. But hey people: this is a minimum. Don't limit yourself. If you are sedentary for more than nine hours of your day, as the average Canadian is, can 30 minutes of moving offset all this sitting time? Make activity a priority and regular part of your life - no maximum!

Before starting any physical activity routine, please check with your healthcare provider.

Matt Mayer is an exercise physiologist.

Posted: June 2012

Heart and Stroke Foundation


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