Olympic officials tell us four billion people watched the Olympics sometime during their 16 day run. Whether it’s the patriotism, spirit of the games, or cheering for your favorite underdog, watching the games may actually help motivate you to improve your daily workout routine. Olympic athletes train for hours in the gym each day to increase their chances at the gold. While this may not be the goal for most of us, there are many fitness lessons we can learn from Olympians.

Here are 5 steps to get you started towards reaching your goals:

    1. Assess your fitness levelIf you are new to exercising, make sure you have a complete physical before you begin your program. Once your doctor gives you the green light to exercise, assess your fitness level. See you long it takes you to walk one mile. Record how many push-ups you can complete in one minute. If these tests are too difficult, you will need to begin slowly. Go at your own pace and gradually increase.
    2. Set attainable goalsGabby Douglas didn’t perform her floor routine perfectly the first time she set foot in a gymnasium. It takes a lot of time, energy and patience to become that good at something. And while most of us won’t train for 6 hours a day, we can set attainable fitness goals. Olympic athletes know how to set goals to stay motivated and continue to gauge their progress. Write down your goals. Consider signing up for a 5K race to keep motivated. The Olympics only come once every four years so Olympians must learn to establish a ritual that can focus their mind.
    3. Design your fitness program.Most adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity – a week. You can walk or jog, swim, bike, use the elliptical machine or join an aerobics class. Do an activity that you enjoy but also increases your heart rate. It is also important to add strength training a few days a week. Remember to practice “mindful lifting” with proper breathing and posture to exercise your core. Muscle mass can decrease by an average of 10% per decade beginning around age 40 without strength training.
  1. Use Food as Fuel.An athlete understands that food is not just food. It’s fuel. It is a source of energy, not a source of comfort or reward. It is important to make smart choices when fueling your body so it will perform as you want it to.
  2. Allow time for recovery.Many people start exercising with too much enthusiasm. They begin by working out too long or too intensely – and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover. If you find yourself becoming overly tired or sore, take a day of rest. Listen to your body. If you feel overworked, instead of quitting, it may be time to try a low impact routine such as yoga or Pilates. Remember to always monitor your progress. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track.

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