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Ten Things You Should Start Doing Today

Navy Master-At-Arms 2nd Class Nichole Lowery instructs Sailors during sunrise yoga

When people say you need to get healthy or that you need to start stretching, it is easy to get lost in the vastness of the options available from such rather general and even specific suggestions. The following is a list of ten things you "need to do today" with specific examples and links to more ideas of how to make them all work for you to create a healthy mind and body.

1. Know your Numbers: Get a physical and find out what your basic health numbers are. Height, weight, body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers (to name a few) are very important to determining your general health. See link for more information on Health Screening 101.

2. Carb Up! What? I thought carbs were bad? Eat more fruits and vegetables. It is still important to avoid sugars, even limiting your grains, BUT you miss out on vital nutrients if you neglect natural fruits and vegetables because you want to avoid carbs. Get Lean With Energy to Train. When it comes to eating however, most of us will be moving in the right direction if we just eat LESS, for healthy numbers on the scale. When in doubt about WHAT to eat – just eat LESS.

3. Drink More Water -- Avoid Soda: If you can add significantly more water to your diet all day long, you will likely avoid sugary drinks and eat smaller portions at meals and snacks. We are made up of mostly water, and we need water throughout the day in order to function properly as a human machine.
Work to reduce soda and juices as they are loaded with the sugar you want to avoid. Try the ten-day challenge by adding more water to your day and see what happens. Weight Intake Test.

4. Foam Rolling: Learning how to use a foam roller is like having your own masseuse in your living room anytime you need one.  In fact, I refer to my foam roller as the "poor man's masseuse." Working out knots, painful soft tissues around the joints is very helpful with general well-being and pain free movement.  Get to know the term Myofascial Release (MFR) – a great video to learn from.

5. Stretching: Foam Rolling, static stretching, and dynamic warmups all go together to make minor aches and pains decrease as well as improve overall flexibility and mobility. Adding a day per week to your difficult training programs (5-6 days a week of training) is a beneficial way to take a recovery day and improve performance.

6. Resistance Training: If you do no physical activity or only walk, you need to consider adding in some form of resistance training. This can be as simple as using dumbbells or doing calisthenics in your home or joining a gym with free weights and machines. Either way, resistance training will help you build stronger bones, muscles, and joints to support you as you age. Stay Strong. Some ideas can be found in the Circuit Training Article.

7. Cardio -- Do it! Work your lungs any way you prefer. Walk, jog, bike, elliptical, row, swim, even circuit training has a cardiovascular effect on the body. Just breathe harder and get the heart pumping. If you are overweight, start off easy and work with more non-impact options of cardio vascular activity. Do this for a few months and you'll notice a difference in your health numbers. Your body needs oxygen -- breathe in more through increased activity levels.

8. Try to Go Natural: If you can avoid foods that are not natural or processed, you will feel better for it in a relatively short period of time. This means more fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, lean meats like beef, fish, and chicken. Avoid processed meats and breads. It is near impossible to eliminate all non-natural foods in today's world. Just do your best to limit these man made foods if you can.

9. Learn More: Research and experiment with different fitness programs and food plans, and find what works best for you. There are a near unlimited numbers of diets, workouts, and even methods to train, so find one -- find several. Mix and match and make them work for you. Keep moving and keep changing the plan with ways that work for you best AND what you enjoy the most.

10: Stay Motivated: This is easier said than done because we do not always have days where we are motivated to train. This is when you have to do it anyway. Discipline and habits will get you through the unmotivated days.  Just keep moving. Even if that movement is nothing more than a 5-10 minute walk after every meal you eat that day -- do it.

The ten things listed above are suggestions to consider when you really are motivated to get healthy. By moving more, drinking more water, eating less quantity as well as processed foods, and learning what works for your body with regard to your health numbers is how you do it. Do not get overwhelmed by all the different ways to lose weight or exercise. Just get up and move and stick to the basics.

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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