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Take 5 in 2015: Tips for physical fitness

Want to build a fitter physique in 2015? Then follow these tips from fitness guru Greg Cloutier, the project manager in the Department of Health Sciences’ Human Performance and Exercise Science Laboratory.

Set goals
Map a day-by-day plan to reach your SMART goals—those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. If your goal is to build muscle mass, focus on lifting weights. If you want to shed a few pounds, focus on cardio and diet.

Stay motivated
Here are four ways to keep on track, even after you’ve hit a plateau:
1. Reach out to others for support; try working out with a friend or a family member who could benefit from exercise.
2. Consider rewarding yourself for a job well done; after every workout, set aside a little money for a vacation or a new laptop.
3. Participate in exercise-based events; sign up for a few 5Ks.
4. Download a fitness app that allows you to earn rewards and compete against your friends; my favorite is MyFitnessPal, which counts calories.

Get creative
If you’re swamped with schoolwork and can’t find time to hit the gym, do what I do: Jump on the stationary bike with your laptop and study while you pedal. If you’re not a fan of the gym, buy a set of resistance bands and work out in your room during a study break; when you’re done, you’ll be refreshed and ready to resume. If you’re more adventurous, consider doing squats, push-ups, and other body weight exercises in an outdoor park or jungle gym.

Eat smartly
Eating is like banking—you have to invest wisely. Invest in good calories, and your body will recover for strenuous workouts and give you the energy you need to study. Invest in bad calories, and you could negate all your work in the gym. Good calories come from proteins with high concentrations of essential amino acids, like chicken, fish, and Greek yogurt; complex carbohydrates, like broccoli, green beans, and bell peppers; and whole grains, like quinoa and couscous. Bad calories come from highly processed foods, with lots of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Stay away from indulging in those in large quantities.

Join a club sport
Northeastern offers more than 40 club sports. Joining one could be a great way for you to increase your fitness level, reduce stress, have fun, and meet new friends.

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