There are many great reasons to exercise, but if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, most of us would already be in great shape.
If you sit around thinking about how many times you’ve started a year with the goal of getting in better shape, yet it hasn’t happened, you start to wonder how in the world the likes of Richard Simmons, Jillian Michaels and Chris Pratt got in shape. It starts to feel as though getting fit is impossible for the average person.
But the truth is, starting an exercise program can be relatively simple. Anyone can go to the gym a couple of times, purchase some cute new Lululemon stretchy pants and get a sweat on. Gyms are packed in January. But come November, they’re not the most popular place to be anymore.
You see, starting to work out is easy, but continuing to work out — that’s the hard part. But if you don’t keep up your exercise routines, you’ll go back to packing on pounds, and even gain more. So, it’s important to find ways to motivate yourself to keep going.
There are many great reasons to exercise. We’ve all heard that exercising gives you more energy, helps you sleep, puts you in a better mood, and can even reduce anxiety, stress and depression. But if knowing how and why to exercise were enough, most of us would already be in great shape. You need a plan of attack if you want long-lasting results
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive. And hopefully, by implementing these tips, you’ll be one of the survivors at the gym at the end of 2018.
Use the overload principle
Give your body something it is not used to, says Mary Nole, owner of MK Nole Wellness Consulting. If you’re just starting, it won’t take much exercise to overload you. However, don’t make your new exercise program something so easy that you can’t tell you did something.
“It’s good to get your heart rate up, feel tired during or immediately afterward, but not for days afterward,” Nole says.
Share your goals with a trusted friend(s)
“If people know you’re on a mission of personal betterment, they can encourage you and inquire as to how you’re doing,” Nole says. Accountability can only make your course to better physical fitness more successful and more fun to work toward.
Consider exercising with a buddy
This could be the same person you share your goals with. “Most of us do better with a planned workout buddy who’s going to hold us accountable,” Nole says. “That tiny bit of accountability keeps you from doing something besides exercise.”
Throughout the workout, rate your level of fatigue on a scale of 1 to 10
This is known as the rating of perceived exertion. “Take stock of how you feel,” Nole says. Simply checking your heart rate can sometimes be deceiving since things like medication can alter it. Therefore, sometimes it’s most accurate to ask yourself throughout the workout how you feel. In most cases, you want your workout to be moderate to heavy.
Plan to include different activities
Including different activities, also known as cross-training, can help prevent exercise boredom. Cross-training by using low-impact forms of activity, such as biking or water exercise, also lowers your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint. Make a weekly plan alternating among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strengthtraining.
It’s unlikely that you will stick to a regular exercise routine unless you actually schedule it in advance.The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Try to get about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Also aim to incorporate strength training of all the major muscle groups into a fitness routine at least two days a week.
Don't wait for the perfect time
“There’s always something to do besides exercise,” Nole says. “There’s always the next occasion — get past the holiday, get past the birthday … so you might as well start incrementally exercising even when times are busy. There’s no perfect time to start.”
Avoid the relapse
“You might start out strong and then fall off the track,” Nole says. “Don’t be afraid to start over again.” When you do start over, ask yourself what went wrong the first time in order to avoid similar pitfalls.
Easy does it
Don’t work your muscles too hard. Often, people start out too hard and too fast because they’re enthusiastic. “You can overdo it, which can lead to soreness, injury and even a mental trepidation because we don’t rush back into things that hurt us or are unpleasant,” Nole says. Initially, you may feel like you had a really good workout because you hurt, but deep inside you usually aren’t drawn to go back to something that hurts you.
“The key to knowing if you’re working out hard enough aerobically is to use the talk test,” Nole says. You should be able to talk while you exercise. If you’re huffing so hard you can’t string together a sentence, you’re probably working out too hard.
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