Exercise is among the best things you can do for your physical and even emotional health. Good for you for making and keeping the commitment to being active. If you’re looking for ways to get a better workout read on for some tips.

Healthy snackHave a pre and post workout snack

Muscles need carbs to do their best work. If you are going to get in just a short workout, reach for a banana or energy bar about an hour before you get started. Going longer? Have an egg on an English muffin or some oatmeal with fruit about two hours before exercise. After exercise you will want to support recovery and muscle growth with protein and carbs. Good choices include chocolate milk, Greek yogurt with fruit or peanut butter and crackers. Be sure to have your post workout snack within 30 minutes. Your body is optimally primed after exercise to absorb nutrients and even replenish glycogen stores that help your muscles get ready for the next workout.

Get the right gear

Moisture wicking material helps you feel comfortable during your workout all year round. In colder weather, be sure to dress in layers so you can remove as needed to stay comfortable as your body temperature rises. Choose the right shoes for your sport and be sure they have adequate support. Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun if you workout outdoors.

Man Drinking Water from BottleStay hydrated

Dehydration reduces performance. Drink water throughout the day every day and top off with a glass just before exercise. If your exercise lasts more than an hour or you sweat heavily you may want to have a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes and get a carb boost. For shorter sessions water is the perfect hydrator.

Practice intervals

Intervals help you do more in less time. To get the benefits, alternate bursts of high intensity with lower intensity exercise. For example, run as fast as you can for 20 seconds and then jog or walk for one minute. Feel free to play with the number and duration of your high and low cycles. Intervals help you burn more calories and fat and build more stamina than exercise performed at a consistent level of intensity.

Bring along a friend

Having a friend along makes exercise feel more fun. Also, you’re likely to push a little harder in friendly competition.

Make a playlist

Studies show that music reduces the level of perceived exertion. That means when your favorite tunes are pumping you up you are less likely to feel the pain. A good playlist will make it easier to go longer and harder during your workout.

Monitor your progress

Sometimes just knowing how far you have come helps you feel great about your workout. Write about your exercise accomplishments in a journal and celebrate milestones along the way.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Stick with it. Even when you don’t have a stellar workout day – you still get the prize for making an investment in your health.