Atkins has been proven to help you lose weight, even without having to exercise. But there are many benefits to just getting out there and moving more, that is, if you’re interested in maintaining your weight, sleeping better, managing your stress, improving your mood, boosting your energy, building muscle (especially when a pound of muscle burns more calories at rest than a pound of fat) and decreasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
At a minimum, current guidelines recommend that adults should get 20 minutes of exercise a day, but the health benefits increase as you increase your daily minutes. Doing a combination of cardio and strength-training exercise will help you reap all the healthy benefits. Make sure you alternate cardio and strength-training days so your body has time to recover between workouts. Here are some ways you can get started:
High-Intensity Cardio Exercise
Alternating high-intensity bursts of cardio with intervals of rest or very low-intensity cardio has been shown to boost your metabolism, increase your post-exercise calorie burn and improve your fitness level.
Warm up for two to five minutes, and then try doing 20 to 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise alternated with 40 to 60 seconds of recovery. Continue this for 15 minutes (or more). During the high-intensity portion of this workout, you should be working hard enough that speaking in full sentences is difficult. Depending on your fitness level, you can walk, jog, run or bike.
Focus on exercises that target each major muscle group. If you’re a beginner, start out by using light dumbbells (3 to 5 pounds and 8 to 12 pounds) or a set of resistance bands. As your fitness level improves, you can increase the weight of the dumbbells. Start with a five-minute warm-up of low-intensity cardio, and then try the following exercises, doing two sets of 10 to 15 reps each.
Dumbbell Chest Presses (Targets your chest)
Lie on a bench with your elbows bent 90 degrees out to your sides; straighten your arms up and return to the starting position.
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows (Targets your upper back)
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and place one hand on bench with your opposite arm holding the weight; draw your elbow up toward your ribs and lower to the starting position.
Biceps Curls (Targets your biceps)
Stand with your arms extended, your palms up, and curl the weights toward your shoulders.
Triceps Extensions (Targets your triceps)
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Lean forward from your waist with your elbows bent 90 degrees at your sides; straighten your arms behind you. Return to the starting position.
Lateral Raises (Targets your shoulders)
Stand with your arms down by your side and your palms in; straighten your arms and raise them to shoulder height. Return to the starting position.
Squats (Targets your legs and butt)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, making sure your knees don’t extend past your feet. Return to the starting position.
Front Lunges (Targets your legs and butt)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and lunge forward with your right leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor, making sure your knees don’t extend past your feet. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg.
Crunches (Targets your abs)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows pointed out. Contract your abs and slowly curl up so that your head, neck and shoulder blades lift off the floor. Hold, and then slowly lower back to the starting position.
Plus, find out what your best low-carb choices are for before and after you exercise.