The Top Five Things to Remember BEFORE Working Out

1. Start your day with a light breakfast.

Think of your body like a very valuable engine — it requires high-quality fuel to run. Therefore forget the cheap low quality (high sugar) fuel such as donuts, muffins and danishes.

Try a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit. A cup of yogurt with some granola mixed in is portable and doesn’t taste half bad. One of those handy breakfast sandwiches isn’t all bad a couple of days a week. A light breakfast 45 to 60 minutes before your work out, followed by a glass (8 oz.) of chocolate milk 30 minutes after your work out is also a healthy start to an energetic day.

FYI- There are a lot of good protein powders and shakes on the market, but for the money, a cold glass of chocolate milk is hard to beat.

Myth: Never eat before you work out.

Truth: If you do not eat and supply fuel for the engine, the engine will burn something. And, that something is muscle since the body burns muscle before fat. (I’ll go out on a limb and bet that losing muscle mass was not your primary motivation for working out.)

2. Consider a few things before choosing a health club.

So you’re prepared to shell out your hard earned money for that membership. Well, you might as well get some return on investment.

Your best shot is waking up an hour earlier and getting your work out in before your hectic work day begins. Make sure that the gym’s hours of operation will not conflict with your schedule. And, if you’re really smart or lucky, you’ll join a gym that is close, maybe within walking distance, to work.

3. Incorporate exercise into your daily life.

Everyone may not be able to afford a health club membership — and of those that can very few actually use it regularly.

Have you ever thought about dropping down and doing 25 push ups just before you take your shower in the morning? If you do that, then 25 more at lunch time, another 25 when you get home from work, and a final 25 before you prepare for bed, you will realize that by the end of the day you've completed 100 push ups ... without dying.

This technique is particularly handy on the weekends during TV commercial breaks of your favorite sport. And, if you start at 10 push ups and work your way up to sets of 25, don’t be embarrassed — no one will know.

4. Vary your health club work-out routine.

Muscles respond better (grow faster) when you confuse them by varying your work out. The variety will also encourage your own compliance by fending off "work out boredom."

Make a calendar for each month’s planned daily work out so if you miss a day you can keep on schedule. Also the monthly schedule will help you from continually working the same muscle groups leading to the dreaded over use injury and a visit to your friendly orthopedic surgeon.

5. Never underestimate the power of walking.

Using a pedometer, a small inexpensive device that counts your steps, makes your walking goals easier to track. When exercise goals are better defined, they are far more likely to be obtained.

The goal of walking for 1 hr. per day becomes far more useful with the addition of a pedometer (FYI- 2,000 steps per mile). The goal is now to walk 1 hr a day and at least 7,000 steps. Since time is at such a premium in our busy lives, each week increase the number of steps by 125 in the same 1 hr. workout.

FYI- Vitamins are a $3 billion dollar per year industry. Most people will do well with simply a balanced diet and at most a daily multi-vitamin. Women reaching the age of menopause should consider adding 1200 mg of calcium with vitamin D to their diet to help guard against osteoporosis.

• Click over for more health advice from Dr. Ben!

Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics, Director of the Joint Implant Center and Director of Medical Specialty Procedures Surgery Center in Vero Beach, Florida are among the countless highlights of Dr. Benjamin's career.

As one of the handful of African American fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeons in the country, Benjamin, has worked with three-time light-heavyweight world champion, Antonio Tarver; three-time junior welterweight and welterweight world champion, Arturo Gotti; and former welterweight world champion, Vernon Forrest. As Departmental Chair his medical expertise guides the 30+ physicians, therapist, nurses and staff of his private practice.