Getting Started and Staying Motivated

18 May

It may seem overwhelming to even think about exercising every day, but remem- ber that any type of physical activity counts toward your goal. If you are over age 40 or are a smoker, you should get a thorough physical examination from your doctor before participating in any type of vigorous exercise program.

After the doctor gives you the all-clear signal, try these tips to get you off to a good start and help you stick to your exercise regimen:

•  Set reasonable goals. If you can only jog lightly for 5 minutes at first, don’t try to do more right away.

•  Listen to your body. It will tell you when to slow down or rest.

•  Vary your routine. It’s too easy to get bored with only one activity.

•  Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that fit well and support your feet.

•  Slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Start with moderate-level activities.

•  Seek support from family and friends. Ask them to exercise with you.

•  Keep an exercise log. Seeing your own progress is a great motivator.

•  Reward yourself. Buy a special treat when you reach a milestone.

The Dangers of Anabolic Steroids

Professional and amateur athletes sometimes use supplements or drugs to improve their physical performance. Anabolic steroids are prob- ably the most well-known performance-enhancing drugs, and the most dangerous. These synthetic drugs imitate the effects of the male hormone testosterone. The drugs have approved medical uses, but athletes use them to make their muscles bulkier and stronger. Anabolic steroids are especially risky because they have a number of unwanted side effects. Steroids can cause acne, raise blood pressure, damage the liver, reduce sperm counts, decrease the size of the testicles, increase the size of the breasts, cause erectile dysfunction, and speed up the development of baldness. Anabolic steroids also can cause mood swings, aggression, and vio-lent behavior. In adolescents they can prematurely stop growth and development. The drugs are either taken in pill form or injected with a hypodermic needle and, if an athlete shares the needle with a friend, he puts himself at risk of contracting a blood-borne infection such as hepatitis (see page 191) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syn- drome (AIDS) (see page 186). If that is not enough to convince you not to use these drugs, you should also know that possessing or selling anabolic steroids without a prescription from a doctor is illegal. Anabolic steroids are not worth the risks. It’s much safer to increase your muscle mass and strength by performing resistance exercises regu- larly and eating a healthy diet.

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