Develop an Exercise Habit: 10 Easy Ways to Enjoy Being Physically Active
Exercising every day is indisputably good for your physical and your mental health, but for some people the thought of being more active just sounds like too much hard work. Going from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one is simple and painless if you develop an exercise habit.
Here are 10 Tips and Tricks on how to enjoy exercise and develop a lifelong love affair with feeling strong and fit.
(1) Start off slowly
Walk up the street for 10 minutes and then walk home
Do 10 pushups, 10 squats and 10 situps
Do a 20 minute yoga DVD
Avoid starting out so intensely that you end up with muscle soreness, or worse, an injury. A full body weightlifting session followed by sprints is probably going to make you sore, tired and miserable. Ease into physical activity slowly. At the beginning, you shouldn’t even work up a sweat.
(2) Exercise every day
Going to the gym three times a week, or going for a long run every weekend is not going to develop a habit. It is better to do 15 to 20 minutes every day (see #1), than longer sessions a few times a week. There is no need for ‘rest’ days until you are training at a higher intensity for longer sessions.
(3) Exercise first thing in the morning
Go for your walk while you are still half asleep. Do your pushups in your pyjamas. Get out the yoga mat as soon as you get out of bed.
Don’t shower, eat, or check your emails before you exercise. Make it the very first thing you do when you get up and then get on with your normal day. Don’t allow yourself to start your normal morning routine until the exercise is done. No breakfast until you’ve been for that walk!
Weekends are the same as week days – make exercise the very first thing that you do. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll do it later on in the afternoon because you probably won’t.
(4) A workout outfit is not required
Many people think that they need the right trainers, the right sports bra, the right track suit pants and a stopwatch before they can start exercising. You don’t need any of these things. Just pull on a pair of comfortable shoes (or go barefoot), some non-restrictive clothing and head out the door. Normal street clothes are fine. Remember that you aren’t going to get sweaty because you are starting slowly.
(5) Mix it up
Don’t do the same thing every day or will get exceedingly boring. Pick a range of activities that incorporate cardiovascular fitness (walking, swimming, cycling), strength conditioning (body-weight, resistance bands, dumbbells) and stretching (yoga, Pilates) and cycle through them. Make a list of 8 items or more and cycle through them. More than 8 is good because you end up doing things on different days of the week and prevents the “oh no its Leg Day/Monday, I think I’ll skip it this morning” syndrome.
(6) Set yourself a reasonable target
Decide that you are going to walk for a set number of minutes, walk a pre-determined distance or do a particular number of weight lifting repetitions. Don’t stop until you’ve done it. Start ridiculously low so that you can easily achieve the target and do a bit more if you feel up to it. You need to feel a sense of accomplishment, not failure
(7) Something is better than nothing
If you don’t really feel like doing the whole of the yoga DVD, just do half of it. If you know there is no way you are going to get through the whole 20 minutes of cycling, instead of doing nothing at all, just do a bit. Sometimes, once you get started you discover that you can keep going after all.
(8) The first 8 minutes are hell
If you have started your exercise session and you are finding it tough, just stick it out for 8 minutes. The first 8 minutes are sometimes hell. After you’ve hit the 8 minute mark you are welcome to stop, but then it is only a couple of minutes more and you will have completed 10 minutes – half your 20 minutes. In my experience, if you can tough it out for the first 8 minutes then the rest is easy.
If you are walking or lifting then listen to some music or an audio book. Walk with a friend and chat on the way. Talk on the phone. Doing something else while you are exercising makes the experience more pleasant and the time fly by.
Alternatively, you can make turn your exercise time into a moving meditation. Listen to your breath, still your mind, and observe the sights and sounds around you. Take time out from the world and the pressures of everyday life.
(10) Get enough food and rest
If you are getting up 40 minutes earlier than normal then make sure you
are in bed 40 minutes earlier than your old bedtime. Being sleep
deprived will make you eat more, stress more and move less in your
normal day to day activities. Do not reduce your normal amount of sleep
because you are getting up early to exercise, get your 8 hours.
Make sure you are eating healthy nourishing food in appropriate quantities. If you are exercising first thing in the morning then you should have a nutritious breakfast with protein, carbohydrates and fat as soon as you are finished. As your body adjusts to your new level of activity you are going to need both fuel and the right nutrients for recovery and muscle repair.
Suddenly it's Easy
Going for a sedentary couch potato to a person who enjoys being
physically active is not difficult. It is simply developing the right
habits. If you implement these 10 tips and tricks you will find that
instead of hating the thought of exercise you actually discover that
you love it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.