Making exercise an easy routine
By Guest Columnist Stephanie Duguid
As we celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May, exercise and its mental, physical, and health benefits is the focus. When you exercise, you can uplift your mood, reduce your risk of illness, and get better sleep. Exercise even helps you live longer.
Exercise helps prevent weight gain or maintain weight loss, prevent health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety, manage blood sugar and insulin; improves your mood and sleep and boosts energy.
If exercise isn’t already a part of your routine, it can be difficult to start fitting extra physical activity into your life. And, after you do start, how will you be able to sustain the exercise in a way that will create lasting results? Here are some ideas:
1. Start with two minutes: When you start with something new like exercise, you want to make it as easy as possible to get started. Limiting your first sessions to two minutes will help you start showing up so that you can transition into the routine of exercising.
2. Make it easy. Get on the path of least resistance by setting a specific time and place to exercise, putting your workout clothes in a specific, open place and preparing your food, shoes and hydration the night before.
3. Link exercise with something you already need to do. You can also combine exercise with a task you already do throughout your day. Walk or run to work. Run to your errands. Listen to an audiobook or podcast while you exercise. Exercise while watching your favorite television show. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. Announce your exercise goal to someone to hold you accountable. Studies on motivation show that people who tell their friends, family, and colleagues about their goals are more likely to be successful. Telling others about your exercise goals can inspire you to take action.
5. Instead of thinking of working out as something you have to do, think about it as something you want to do. When you look at exercise as something you have to do, you rob yourself of enjoying the process.
6. Choose consistency over intensity. What will you do when you are stressed, ill, or injured? Keep at it. and avoid burning out and losing your motivation to exercise by being consistent with your exercise instead of sticking to a rigid “all or nothing” plan.
7. Accept progress over perfection. Do not expect your fitness journey to be linear. If you focus on trying to be perfect, you run the risk of feeling like you are not progressing at all. If you feel like you’re not progressing, you may find it hard to stay motivated. Realize that any progress is good!
8. Track numbers and progression. Studies show that writing down goals, measuring progress, and establishing rewards lead to success. When you keep track of your progression, you can identify what you would like to improve or focus on. You can see the progress you’ve made over a given time, which can motivate you to keep going. Use a computer or cell phone app or notebook to track your numbers and progression.
9. Think about the benefits. Studies also show that permanent change comes from reminding yourself of benefits associated with achieving your goals. More energy. Weight loss. Feeling more confident.
10. Reward yourself. A reward will help train your brain to look forward to exercising and help you achieve your goal.
Exercise can greatly benefit your life. Don’t be afraid to start small as you begin working exercise into your daily life.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie Duguid is Dean of Academic Instruction at Co-Lin. She is also an athletic trainer and nutrition specialist and has been teaching courses related to those two areas as well as practicing what she preaches for more than twenty years.