How to make exercise easier to handle

We all have good intentions, but sometimes committing to exercise is a difficult task. These tips will help spring you into action.

How to make exercise easier to handle

1. Exercise first thing in the morning

Don't think about it. Just roll out of bed, put on your shoes (oh, and please brush your teeth) and go. You're more likely to get your workout in if you do it in the morning, research shows. An added benefit: you'll sleep better at night.

2. Drink a glass of cherry juice before working out

Who would have thought a glass of red juice could make a difference in muscle strength? But that's just what researchers at the University of Vermont in Burlington found when they had 14 volunteers drink either fresh cherry juice blended with commercial apple juice twice a day for three days before exercise and for four days afterward, or a dummy mixture containing no cherry juice.

The cherry juice drinkers lost far less muscle strength in the days after their workouts than those drinking the fake mixture (four percent versus 22 percent). The cherry juice drinkers also had much less pain after working out than the other juice drinkers. Plus, the cherry juice drinkers said their pain peaked at about 24 hours, while it lasted twice that long for those getting the placebo juice. The researchers suspect the high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in cherry juice are behind its benefits.

3. Stick to drinking water when exercising

The television ads show elite athletes slurping down sports drinks to replenish their body chemistry and thus enhance their performance. Well, this has little relevance to us normal folk. Research does show that top-performing endurance athletes need higher levels of sodium and far more to drink than everyday people.

Sports drinks like Gatorade fill that need — they're rich in salt, which not only provides the needed sodium but also keeps the athlete thirsty for more fluids. Here's the reality check, however: the extra salt provides no benefit at all to everyday people. Even if you exercise regularly, unless you are testing your body's physical limits for extended periods, water will quench your thirst nicely.

4. Use music to boost your pace

Program your iPod or other portable music player to start out with slow music (think classical and easy listening) and gradually build to rapid-fire dance music (any club music should do nicely). That arrangement, studies find, will result in your working harder and longer than those who start with fast or slow music and stick with it, or move from fast music to slow music. And here's another use for your favourite mobile music: use it when you're walking.

A study published in the journal Chest found that people who listened to music while walking covered 6.4 more kilometres(four miles) during the eight-week study than a similar group that didn't listen to music. The participants had serious respiratory disease, and researchers think that listening distracted them from the negative symptoms of exercise (such as boredom and fatigue) and reduced shortness of breath.

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