We hear it time and time again, the more exercise you do, the better it is for your metabolism, your body and your mind.
Now, that's all well and good but what is less frequently discussed is the fact that many of us are training poorly - so poorly in fact that our exercise may not really be doing much at all.
So, here are some of the most common exercise mistakes women make, and the easy ways to fix them.
1) Maintaining, not training
Walk into any gym and you will be sure to see a couple of women sitting on an exercise bike or walking on a treadmill reading a book or magazine.
Now while any exercise is better than none, if your goal is to improve fitness and lose body fat, you have to actually challenge the muscle to significantly burn more calories.
This means that you have to get your heart rate up, I mean really up, so that you are huffing and puffing for at least 20 minutes.
Once you are walking or exercising at this intensity, there is no room for magazines.
2) Doing the same thing, day in, day out
Yes, it is great that you go for a walk or run every day but if you have been doing the same exercise regime, on the same days, for the same amount of time for months if not years, it is safe to say that your walk or run is not doing much.
The human body likes to be in a state called homeostasis, or balance, which means that it quickly adapts to what you do with it.
So, if you have done the same type and amount of exercise for some time, change it, regularly.
Run instead of walk, or choose a different path or exercise at a different time of day - just change and change it often.
3) Skipping weights
Now, I know that some of you have already decided to skip this paragraph but for women especially it is important to know that once we get to the age of 30, cardio is not enough.
Regular weights training will help to preserve muscle mass, increase metabolic rate and basically teach your body to burn glucose more efficiently.
Ideally we should all be doing some sort of resistance training at least once each week whether it is with a trainer, as part of a class or with some light weights at home.
4) Overcompensating with extra food
It may be upsetting to hear, but the truth is that the coffee and banana bread you enjoy with the girls after the gym probably contains more calories than you burnt in your entire workout.
After exercise, it is common to give ourselves permission to eat more, or eat things we never usually do simply because we have worked out.
Unfortunately, if the goal is fat loss, these extra calories can be the difference between fat loss or not.
Keep mindful of your calories by self-monitoring your intake with an online calorie counter such as MyFitnessPal, and if you do enjoy a coffee after your gym class, make sure it is a small one, minus the cake.
5) Holding on
Holding onto machines, whether it is the treadmill, X-Trainer or supported weights machines will mean that you are working fewer muscle groups and burning fewer calories than if you support yourself.
Of course this does not mean you risk falling off a machine but try to allow your body to do as much of the work as possible and in turn get the most out of the time you are working out.
- Sydney Morning Herald