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Exercise Like the X-Men: 7 Steps to Personal Fitness

x-men Superheroes are smart, strong and powerful – and so are you. This summer, get your exercise regimen off the ground with these seven, superhero-worthy steps. The days of your fitness future await.

Step #1: Be The Beast – Engage Your Body And Your Mind

With superhuman strength and senses, the Beast is one of the most powerful characters in the X-Men world – but what really sets this big blue giant apart is his keen mind. The Beast is a brilliant doctor of science, medicine and mathematics, and although you don’t have to be a genius to get fit, using your brain à la the Beast is an important step in the climb to personal fitness. When starting a workout regimen, use your head to arrange exercise activities: if you’re not a morning person, don’t plan to achieve superhuman strength with daily jogging at sunrise. Map out your weekly schedule to see where you can fit in a pilates class or afternoon session at the gym. With a well-planned, intelligent routine, you will see and feel fitness results much quicker.

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Step #2: Make Like Magneto – Get Enough Iron (And Other Nutrients)

A new fitness program necessitates a new eating program, too. Although it’s tempting to crash diet when you start to exercise (in hopes of enjoying rapid weight loss), eating too little will prevent your body from developing muscle and make your daily workouts much more challenging. Instead of dieting, eat better. Magneto manipulates iron, and you should do that same: up your intake of iron (important for energy levels and blood health), vitamin C (which will keep your immune system strong through tough training) and B vitamins (essential for building proteins and repairing muscle tissue). To add these vitamins and minerals into your diet easily, eat more vegetables. Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are full of iron, vitamin A and vitamin C, and fresh starch from potatoes, yams and squash offer better nutrients than rice, pasta or bread.

Step #3: Perform à La Professor X – Work Around Your Handicaps

Before you start a fitness plan, consider your weaknesses. Shin splints may make you a poor candidate for long distance running, but don’t worry – there’s always another option. Those with foot or ankle problems can focus on upper body strength, or engage in cardio through biking and rowing. If you suffer from chronic knee or back problems or are currently pregnant, a tailored pilates or yoga program will build fitness and muscle, without bodily strain. If you suffer an injury or illness halfway through your new regime, don’t let it stop your progress. Integrate exercise into everyday activities to keep your heart strong and lung capacity up to speed. Lift weights or do sit-ups while watching TV, or take a low-impact walk every day.

Step #4: Mimic Mystique – Forget About Appearances

Mystique can look like anyone she wants, but she’d rather not have to. Mimic this scaly superhero by loving the way you look, because many a fitness program has failed due to unhealthy obsession with body image: when you’re worried about weight loss only, it’s easy to become discouraged. Seeing the results of a new fitness program takes time, so instead, concentrate on the results you can feel – without just a few days, you’ll notice better breath control, a slower resting heart rate and more strength during everyday activities such as climbing the stairs. Physical changes are slower to come, so don’t give up if you haven’t achieved the body of Christy Turlington after just two weeks. Set other goals that aren’t related to what you see in the mirror; for example, you might aim to halve your mile time in a month, double your weight resistance, or get through twice as many ab reps as before. When physical results do start to show (and they will), it’s fine to get excited, but remember: it’s the great health underneath your skin that’s truly worth fighting for.

Step #5: Workout Like Wolverine – Take Time To Heal

If your body isn’t used to vigorous exercise, it may struggle to keep up with your new fitness program. Take the necessary steps to prevent injury – warm-up and cool-down before and after a strenuous workout, increase fitness challenges gradually, wear shock-absorbing shoes – and when you are hurt, take the time to heal. Pushing your body through an injury is a terrible idea: you’ll make your wounds worse, increase your recovery period and ultimately cause much more damage to your fitness plan. Common sports injuries include sprains, shin pain, fractures and dislocations. To improve healing, learn what to do at the moment an injury occurs: control any bleeding, apply ice, elevate the injury if possible, and most importantly, stop exercising immediately. If you experience severe pain or swelling, or are unable to put any weight on the injured limb, contact a health care professional immediately.

Step #6: Survive The Storm – Don’t Let The Weather Get You Down

You can’t change the weather like Storm, but you can plan your workout around it. Take stock of the elements when deciding on a fitness regime: if you live in a hot and humid climate, plan to do most of your exercise in a swimming pool or an air-conditioned gym. On the other hand, if summers in your city mean mild temperatures and plenty of sun, include friends and sports activities in your workout program. To avoid illness or injury, tailor your daily exercise to the conditions outdoors. Switch out a run through the park for 30 minutes of pilates on a rainy day, and during a heat wave, head to the lake for swimming or rowing. The weather is a great excuse to change up an exercise routine and keep your workouts fun and fresh, so don’t fret if the rain starts to fall: get a muddy game of ultimate Frisbee going instead.

Step #7: Stick To It Like Toad – Never Give Up

Toad’s sticky appendages help him scale buildings, but your fitness goals need not be nearly so lofty. Out of everything you hope to achieve, make sticking to it your main aim. Good fitness happens when exercise is a part of your daily life. Choose activities you won’t want to give up: playing on a community sports team, for example, or ­joining a yoga class with friends. The first few days, weeks and even months of a new fitness program can be taxing, but don’t give up: exercise will get easier every single day, and with determination, you’ll be showing off your superpowers in no time.

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