Overcoming Your Fear of the Weight Section at the Gym for a Healthier Stronger You

Walking into a gym is often intimidating, especially for a newb. To a beginner, there is nothing more frightening than the weight section, the place where all the muscled-up bods are flexing and grunting away, showing off their skill and physique. While this section of the gym can seem intimidating, it is also where you get lean and build muscle mass. In other words, it is the area of the gym that provides the most advantage to getting in the shape you want.

The weights section is not reserved for people with 0% body fat or who could win a Mr. or Ms. Universe pageant. It is an area for all gym members. Instead of fearing the section, embrace its potential. To embrace it, though, you need to understand where the fear comes from. For most people, the fear stems from believing they don’t belong or will make a mistake.

First, you absolutely belong; a gym is a space for all genders and body types. Second, you will probably do something wrong, but nothing bad is going to happen. You can’t expect to get everything right when trying something new. However, to help you minimize risks and optimize your odds of success, follow the straightforward four-step plan for overcoming your fear of the weight room.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The key to squashing your fear is to remember that everyone started where you are now. Sure, they might look like professionals now, but think about where they were years ago. Additionally, despite the intimidating physiques, most people at the gym are friendly and willing to lend a hand to a fellow member in need.

If you are unsure how to do an exercise or which exercise is best for legs, chest, back, or whatever, ask someone in the weights area. Most people will happily offer advice. However, even if the first person you ask is not that friendly, try the next. No harm will come to you, promise.

2. YouTube Is Good for More Than Cat Videos

If you want to get serious about lifting weights, check out YouTube for instructional videos. Many channels are dedicated to beginners, showing the proper form and techniques of several popular free-weight exercises. Many YouTube instructors will even talk about variations of specific exercises so you can focus on building the fundamentals before getting into heavyweights. However, make sure you check out the person’s qualifications to avoid bad advice.

3. Work With a Trainer

A personal trainer is an investment. Some people cannot afford a trainer right away, or they can’t justify the expense. However, when you can afford one, it is money well-spent. A trainer or teacher can help you develop a comfort level with the weight room. They will also help you design a routine for your body and capabilities. Remember, you do not have to keep a trainer forever; it is a temporary expense.

4. Remember, Your Experience Is a Shared Experience

Every bodybuilder, weightlifter, or average lean Joe started where you are starting. You cannot build muscle and a healthy exercise habit without embracing the weight room. Instead of shying away from the weights, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you belong. Sometimes, a bit of self-motivation can go a long way.

The weight room is an intimidating place for most newbies, but you can get over your fear with practice, preparation, and knowledge. How did you overcome your fear of the weight room?

The Health Benefits of Speed-walking: Why You Should Try It

Speed-walking or racewalking is an Olympic sport. This year, it is gaining some attention as Mexico continues to show its power as a competitor and champion in the endurance activity. While you might not follow the Olympics and might not care who is the reigning speed-walking champion, you might be interested in the health benefits from the activity. Speed-walking is a low-impact, moderate aerobic activity that can improve overall health and mobility. Additionally, it can benefit weight loss goals.

Why Speed-Walking Is Healthy

Although the activity is associated with intense cardio, speed-walking is likely more related to moderate levels of oxygen and blood flow. That means it can help with circulation, allowing your heart to beat at a slower pace and helping you avoid the shortness of breath that can be common with vigorous cardio workouts.

As opposed to high-intensity cardio workouts, speed-walking offers lower levels of oxygen intake that help the heart and blood vessels do their jobs. The low intensity of the exercise means you can sustain the activity for a longer period without becoming winded or fatigued. Therefore, speed-walking ultimately provides a longer duration exercise at sustained levels, which is beneficial to weight loss, balance, and mobility.

How Does Speed-Walking Compare to Other Exercises?

Categorized in the same class of low-impact aerobic activities like walking, jogging, and running, speed-walking is an interval-type workout that can help you build strength and endurance in your muscles, work on your balance, improve your mood, and improve your sleep. In addition, it can help you burn calories and reduce stress.

While speed-walking is an easy and enjoyable exercise for any age and fitness level, you should still be cautious and do the proper research, ensuring you are physically ready for the activity. Like a long-distance run, speed-walking can help build stamina and endurance but can also lead to injuries if you are not properly trained and are not mindful of your body. Before starting any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to determine if it is a good fit.

The Benefits of Speed-Walking

There are many benefits to this physical activity, and it does not need to take up a lot of time to reap the rewards: 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes per week. While the exercise is an endurance workout, it has several benefits beyond stamina. Researchers have found that speed-walking can reduce the risks associated with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis by strengthening the bones and muscles in the legs. Additionally, walking has been shown to boost heart rate and increase blood flow to muscles, aiding in cardiovascular fitness. Walking can also improve insulin sensitivity and aid weight loss efforts.

Speed-walking might be experiencing some added interest from Olympic coverage, but it will always be an efficient form of exercise. The simple truth is that walking is more accessible than running, and it is less dreaded than other forms of aerobic activity. If you are interested in burning calories and improving cardiovascular health while increasing your stamina, speed-walking is for you.

What are some other unique exercises you have heard of and want to try?

Exercise Your Way to a Healthier Immune System!

Exercising is good for your heart, your muscles and your mood. Did you know it’s also amazing for your immune system? Recently, scientists discovered that working out boosts your defenses against infections.

Why Is Exercise Important for a Strong Immune System?

There are several reasons why exercise is good for your immune system. When you put them all together, you feel happy, healthy and energized.

1. Physical Activity Reduces Stress Levels

Anxiety weakens your immune system. When you’re not sleeping at night and you feel stressed all day, your body is vulnerable to illness. Exercise to the rescue! Any kind of physical activity can lower stress hormones and get your immune system back on track. Even something as simple as getting some fresh air and going for a walk helps!

2. Exercise Strengthens Your White Blood Cells

White blood cells are the most important part of a healthy immune system. They detect and destroy viruses, bacteria and toxins. When you exercise, your body produces more white blood cells and it speeds up your blood circulation so these defenders act quickly. When your immune system catches harmful invaders right away, you don’t get sick.

3. Working Out Gives You a Mini Fever

Viruses don’t like it hot. That’s why your body triggers a fever when you have an infection: it kills off the invaders. Exercise has a similar effect. As your heart rate increases, so does your core body temperature. That may help destroy viruses before they have a chance to attack.

4. Staying Active Alleviates Inflammation

Regular exercise can lower inflammation all around your body — from sore muscles to tender joints. When your body is fighting a war against chronic inflammation, it has to use a lot of “soldiers.” That can leave your body’s defenses wide open for invaders. By reducing inflammation, exercise lets your immune system deploy “troops” to protect you against viruses instead.

The science doesn’t lie! According to one study, people who exercise at least three times a week are 25% less likely to get a cold.

What Are the Best Exercises for Your Immune System?

The goal with exercise is to boost your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. I like to do a blend of cardio workouts and whole-body strength training.

Excellent Cardio Exercises

What I love about cardio is that it gives you a chance to recharge emotionally while you’re increasing your heart rate. If you have the chance, do these exercises outdoors and watch the stress melt away (and fat, too)!

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Mountain biking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Fitness dancing (like Zumba)

My Favorite Strength Training

These are some simple exercises anyone can do at home. Buying a resistance band or free weights isn’t necessary, but they do help with your results. For an extra boost to your strength training exercises, hold each position for a few seconds:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Planks (like push-ups but holding the position using your elbows)
  • Arm raises
  • Leg raises
  • Side leg raises

You should feel the burn, but you don’t want pain. If lunges make your knees hurt, for example, do leg raises on your back instead.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Any level of physical activity has benefits for your immune system, but you should aim for moderate- or high-intensity exercises. Start by exercising for 15–30 minutes, three to five days a week. This slims your tummy and helps your body feel great at the same time!

Why I Stopped Using My Fitness Tracking App

Since their rise in popularity five to 10 years ago, smartwatches and fitness trackers have changed the way people approach fitness and health. While once upon a time individuals would only count the number of calories they burned while on a treadmill, today they are able to track their process at every waking moment. Not only that, but smart devices enable wearers to monitor their sleep patterns, count their calories, track their heart rates and more. While you, like so many others, may assume that this kind of insider knowledge can help you more easily stay motivated and hit your wellness goals, experts worry that the constant access to data may feed obsessive tendencies. These experts are not wrong.

Constant Tracking Causes Anxiety … And Feeds Addictive Tendencies

If you use a fitness tracking app, you know all too well how quickly fitness — or, rather, the data — can overtake your life. In your pre-app life, you may have gauged your level of fitness on how good you felt, how well your pants fit and how much energy you brought to each day. Since downloading the app, though, you may suddenly feel as if you’re not good enough when you struggle to meet that 10,000-step-a-day milestone.

For instance, your levels of anxiety may increase as the sun begins to set and you only have 8,000 steps logged. Feelings of inadequacy may creep in when you notice that your friend logged 1,000 steps more than you even though you’ve been awake for the same amount of time. Though you may be ashamed to admit it, you may have put a conversation on pause once or twice to jog in place or take a couple of laps around the room.

If you can relate to one or all of the aforementioned scenarios, you have tracking-induced anxiety. Though a new phenomenon, it is common and grows increasingly more so with each passing day. Instead of letting fitness tracking apps continue to zap the pleasure out of working out and nurturing your body, it may be time to revert to the old ways of monitoring your health. Chances are you will be happier for it.

Fitness Tracking Fosters Unrealistic Expectations

Somewhere between the development of fitness tracking apps and the surge in their popularity, a myth was born, and that is that you need to take 10,000 steps a day to achieve optimal health. There is no scientific basis for this assertion, and, in fact, most active people do not walk this much in a single day. Yet, not only does this myth prevail but also, it contributes to even more unrealistic expectations. These expectations can deter even the most motivated of individuals from walking daily. For people who are just starting out, they can be downright daunting.

Fitness Tracking Does Not Consider the Intensity of a Workout

For you to realize all the touted benefits of exercise, you must succeed at getting your heart rate up. Heart rate increases with the intensity of a workout, not with an increase in the number of steps you take. You can take 10,000 steps every day, but if those steps are taken at a slow pace, they may do you little good. However, if 1,000 of your 7,000 daily steps are taken during a high-intensity exercise, you may be better off than a person who routinely takes 10,000 steps per day. Fitness tracking apps do not take the intensity of a workout into consideration and, therefore, often provide inaccurate data.

The idea behind fitness tracking apps is admirable. Yet, there are several variables for which they do not account and, more worrisome, they cause more stress than they alleviate. For that reason, many people have given them up in 2022, and you should consider doing the same.