This year, commit to making exercise a lifelong habit. It doesn’t matter if you have been inconsistent, or haven’t done any exercise since school days. Today is the day you can spend five minutes making a big difference in your life.
I’ll go into more detail below, but let me just say that exercising doesn’t have to mean three hours at the gym pumping iron. There are so many fun and wonderful ways to move our bodies and keep them running at peak performance. And you can change up your routine throughout the year to keep it fun. Exercise has many health benefits.
Regular movement is wonderful for helping your brain. It can improve concentration and your memory. You get an emotional boost after exercising (runner’s high!). If you’re needing to come up with a creative idea, go walk because that will boost your creativity. And as if all of that weren’t good enough, regular exercise holds back the hands of time.
And that’s just your brain!
Exercise helps your body by increasing blood flow to all areas. This can lead to clearer skin. It also helps your lungs stay in great shape. It keeps your muscles from atrophying. When they atrophy, they don’t work as well, and that can lead to dangerous falls or an inability to walk easily.
When you move and stretch, it helps your spine stay straight. And when you do core exercises, it also helps keep your back supported. So no more aching backs after helping move some furniture.
Exercise also gives you an energy boost. It can be a social activity. Regular exercise also helps you sleep better and keep the spark in your sex life. Increasing your heart rate also helps keep your heart healthy, reduces your risks of stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and many more ailments.
Have you ever heard of the term “functional fitness?” That’s a term for getting exercise specifically to help us live our lives easier for a long time. For example, if you lift a lot of boxes or grocery bags, you will want to have strong arms, core, back, and legs. You would also want to find out special stretches to keep your muscles long and lean.
Weight training and weight-bearing exercise also will build up your bones which is very important as we age.
Finally, regular stretching like yoga and pilates keeps your muscles flexible and healthy. That helps you have better balance preventing you from dangerous falls.
So any exercise routine you start today will help you live a safe and happy life for longer. And that’s what we should all be striving for.
If you’re just starting out again, you should see your doctor. Follow her advice if she tells you to do something differently. If you’ve been exercising for some time, but you don’t have a regular routine, figure out what’s holding you back. Maybe you keep trying to exercise at the wrong time of the day for success.
Plan Your Goals
Start off with something that you know you can do yet will stretch you a little bit (pun intended!)
Here are some suggestions
- Losing weight
- Recovering from an injury
- Getting more movement from your body
- Strengthening your muscles
- Have more energy
- Overall health benefits
Now is a good time to connect with your “Why.” Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to have more energy? Why do you want to be stronger?
When you are connected to something that’s important to you, you’ll be more likely to follow through. Perhaps you’ve decided to run your first 5k in 2018, but you’ve never run further than your car to the front door when it’s raining. That’s a fun and exciting motivation. (and completely do-able).
Next, you need to think about what kind of person you are. Do you like being social and being part of a group or do you prefer to do things alone? Do you like the idea of being indoors or do you want to be outside? Are there any activities that are new that you’re interested in like cross-fit?
Schedule the Time
Take exercising seriously like a client meeting or family dinner. If you’re going to make exercising a lifelong habit, it’s good to have a set time when you know you’re going to sweat.
Avoid All or Nothing Thinking
If you’re thinking that you need to dress up and go work out or take a class for sixty minutes or it doesn’t count, it’s time to let go of that way of thinking. It’s perfectly fine to take a 25 – 30-minute walk after a meal. That aids digestion and gets the blood flowing.
If you miss your scheduled time to exercise, then reschedule it. You may need to change the time you spend on it, or break it up into more than one exercise time. Be flexible so you can continue to achieve your goals.
Remember, even running up and down stairs for 5 to 10 minutes counts. Consider investing in a pedometer to track your steps and that may help you break the all or nothing mentality.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
Often, we want to do something crazy like lose 10 kilograms before a high school reunion in two weeks. Good fitness takes time otherwise you’ll injure yourself.
You absolutely can transform your body using the right combination of cardio, weights, and stretching. However, it takes time.
So set yourself up for success with goals that will enhance your life in 2018 and beyond.
Doing Too Much Too Soon
Many people run to the gyms in the first few weeks of the new year and start lifting weights that are too heavy. Then the next day, they can hardly move because their muscles are still recovering. Don’t be that person.
Start slowly and build it up to make exercise a lifelong habit, and not something that you’re just doing today.
Sticking to One Thing Only
You know that person who goes to the gym and does an hour on the elliptical and then leaves. But they don’t do anything else? Yeah, don’t be that person either. When you only do one type of exercise, you overtrain those parts of your body, and the rest of you will atrophy. And that’s not healthy.
Focusing On the Scale
Remember that you’re doing this for your self. You want to take care of your body. And as an added benefit, you will charge up your mind and soul. So when you make fitness a lifelong habit, you will need to do it for yourself and your sense of well being, and not for a number on a scale.
Promise yourself you only have to do something for twenty minutes. You’ll find that you suddenly are enjoying it more and will finish your workout.
It also helps to take a step back and ask yourself what you like. Are you the type that prefers being around other people? If so, you may want to find a yoga studio and a cross-fit studio. You don’t have to join a regular gym. Just sign up for group classes and see what you enjoy the most.
On the other hand, if you don’t like being around other people, there is so much you can do in your home or outside. There are a lot of apps on your smartphone that you can use for cardio, weights, and stretching.
Some apps even allow you to set the time you want to work out. So if you have a day where you only have five minutes, plug that in, and get a full body workout in 5 minutes!
Here are my favorite apps
And if you want even more variety, you can check out these subscription-based workouts that you can play on your laptop, tablet, phone, or even television if you have it hooked up to the internet.
6 Weeks to Sexy/6 Weeks to Shredded – This online program was created by Blake Worrall Thompson and mirrors his live training in Adelaide and Sydney. You get five workouts a week and accountability coaches. You will need some dumbbells for certain. A Swiss ball would help with some of the exercises.
Beachbody On Demand – Beachbody is an industry leader in fitness DVDs. They allow you to stream all their programs (from PiYo to Insanity). What I like is that they rate the programs so you can find one that’s at your level, or challenging if you feel like pushing yourself.
DDP Yoga Now – The professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page put together Yoga for Guys, and then rebranded it as DDP Yoga. It’s focused on helping people who are injured or need to start out very gently.
Daily Burn – Like Beachbody, Daily Burn has a lot of different types of workouts you can choose to do like Power Cardio, Yoga, and Live to Fail (muscle building). They provide a brand new workout every day in all their sections. So you’ll never get bored.
Buf Girls – Created by four Sydney based women, this program takes you through 42 days of workouts and includes nutrition articles and healthy recipes. The workouts are written and don’t include videos. But you can do them anywhere since you won’t need any equipment. And how can you not love their tag line – Fall in Love with Fitness.
Making Exercise A Lifelong Habit
Our bodies are fantastic at adapting. So you may notice as time goes on that your routine is not as effective. That’s the time to try mixing it up.
You will also be more committed to sticking with things if you find it interesting.
And as our bodies change, we need different things. As we get older, we may need more stretching as well as more focused functional fitness. Or maybe we need to do more weight lifting to counter a few years of sitting in a chair doing office work.