How You Can Make Fitness Part of Your Routine

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Woman drinks water after workout to stay hydrated.
Iris Trujillo drinks water after her workout to avoid dehydration and muscle cramping July 27, 2016, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. (Joel Martinez/U.S. Air Force)

I have had many questions about yard work, compared to exercise and other rigorous activities common to the spring season. I have found that the caloric expenditure in many of these outdoor activities is comparable to running, walking and even calisthenics/weight training.

The problem that many people face with seasonal "hobbies" is that for a good part of the year, little or no physical activity gets accomplished. That is where I come in.

Starting a fitness plan eventually has to become a habit that you enjoy or even moderately enjoy in order to maintain with any consistency. Many of the ideas below are adapted from the Military.com Fitness eBook Store workout plans and used to create functional fitness, or "hobby fitness," routines you can use anywhere and anytime. Your exercise plan has to incorporate the following components:

1. Cardiovascular exercise

Activities such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rowing a boat and climbing steps increase the heart rate and help improve heart and circulatory functions. Burning calories is also a byproduct of these activities. To give you an idea of what it takes to burn 100 calories (that's one cookie, by the way), you have to walk 30 minutes, jog 17 minutes or rake leaves for nearly 60 minutes.

2. Resistance training

Weights or body-weight calisthenics are great examples of resistance training exercises that build muscles and strengthen bones. Lifting heavy items such as plants and bags of leaves can substitute as resistance training exercises, as well burn the above cookie in about 40 minutes. Circuit training can burn the same amount of calories in 15 minutes, and weight training alone can accomplish it in 20 minutes.

3. Stretch, drink water and eat properly

All of these must become habits for a lifestyle of health to be effective. Many people try to lose weight by only dieting and dropping their caloric intake to less than 1,000 calories a day with little or no exercise. The problem with "eating to lose weight" is that your metabolism drops with your weight, which causes the body to add weight quickly when the dieting stops.

By combining all three of the above components, you will feel better, lose weight, become more fit and healthy, and increase the metabolic rate, which will burn that 100-calorie cookie faster even when resting.

Good luck on fitting fitness into your schedule and making it a habit. Take a look at the Stew Smith article archives for great tips on exercise routines that build muscles, burn fat and make you feel great.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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