There are many different ways to improve your physical and mental health. However, simply exercising is the best (and safest) way to do it. Exercising is one of the most effective way to improve your body; both inside and out. A little exercise everyday will help you manage depression and stress, increase energy levels and boost mental sharpness and focus. You don’t need to have a complicated workout regimen, or access to the latest gym equipment to reap these benefits. Regardless of age, fitness level, or health conditions, you can utilize simple exercise routines to make every day a better one.
Many people find it easier to revamp their eating habits and other areas of their lives than embracing regular exercise. Going to the gym is the popular way for maintaining exercise, but the problem is that people often let their membership lag, can’t find the time or lose the motivation. While they have the right intentions in the first place, they soon find that regularly going to the gym is a challenge.
Benefits of exercise
Before we get to how to make regular exercise part of your lifestyle, let’s first talk about what happens when you do it for an extended period of time. Exercise is not just about adding more muscles, or increasing cardiovascular ability. Sure, these are great and are bound to occur, but regular exercise has far more profound effects than that, namely better energy, moods, and brainpower. A study by the Journal of Health & Fitness conducted on long term exercisers (those who had done it for more than 10 years) found that they weren’t motivated by six pack abs or bigger pecs, but rather by the increased energy, positive moods and feelings, improved self-esteem, and that exercise helped them relax and sleep better at night.
One thing to note at this point is that all these can be achieved without having to spend hours at the gym pumping iron, or running tirelessly on a treadmill.
Why haven’t you started exercising?
Regardless of all the benefits of regular exercise, many of us still equate it to one of the household chores, something that doesn’t fit into our busy schedules, or believe that it is only for younger people. These are the common myths surrounding exercise that have made it difficult for many to start exercising. Being able to overcome these myths is the first step to a healthy lifestyle.
Reasons for not exercising
- “I feel too tired to do it”
Actually, exercise is great when you feel tired, simply because it reduces fatigue and makes you more energetic afterwards. If you feel tired, try skipping rope, or dancing to your favorite tune and see how much better you feel afterwards.
- “I don’t have the time”
You don’t need half the day to exercise, even a short 15 minute walk/run will make a big difference. Remember going from no exercise to a small amount is still a huge improvement.
- “It is too painful/difficult”
If you want the best results, consider the saying “no pain equals no gain.” Also, exercise doesn’t have to be painful to be effective. If you are just starting out, you don’t need to push yourself. Even small things like going on a walk or getting up and doing chores are great for your strength and fitness.
- “I’m not the athletic type”
Are you confused by the difference between free throw and foul ball? Do you kick the neighbor’s soccer ball and blush at your bad technique? Join the club. You don’t need to be super coordinated to exercise. Find something that you like to do and that makes you feel comfortable in your skin.
- “I’m too old” or “I’m too overweight”
It is never too late to start exercising, even if you have never exercised before in your life and your kids are done with college. Plus, exercise has been proven to help improve your immune system and make a huge difference in combating disease. If you feel that your weight or health is going to be an issue (which it rarely is), consult your doctor about coming up with a routine that is safe.
We can list a thousand reasons as to why people don’t feel the need to exercise, but we will come up with a counter-argument every time. What does that tell you? Exercise is important and it is possible–even for you. And here’s how you can start making it part of your daily life.
1. Start slowly
When people decide to start exercising, most will rush to pay gym membership fees and buy costly exercise equipment. They will start out strong, make the effort for 2 weeks or so, then slowly lose motivation. The gym membership card gathers dust and the equipment finds a comfortable spot at the back of the closet.
Exercise doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing type of deal. If you haven’t been able to meet previous goals, or this is your first time exercising, then trust me, don’t set unrealistic goals. Committing to exercise for 2 hours a day may be quite the challenge, whereas doing it for 15 minutes four times in a week is within reach. Once these short training times become a habit and you start seeing the benefits, you can move to the next level.
2. Find fun exercises
You are more likely to exercise over a long period of time if you find the exercise fun and enjoyable. Give it some thought, and come up with a list of things that you like that can be part of your exercise routine. The trick is to find something that forces you to be active and is enjoyable. Additionally, you can pair another activity with your exercise, like listening to music while you jog.
3. Identify excuses, and do away with them!
What has gotten in the way of your exercising in the past, or is likely to do so now? Is it money, your schedule, or something else? If you know what it is beforehand, you can navigate around it. For example, if money to join a gym is the problem, try running instead. If time is the issue, wake up half an hour early. If it is a friend who is unreliable, quit trying to fix them and focus on yourself. Simply put, don’t let excuses run your life.
4. Always think positively
Integrating exercise fully into your lifestyle is not going to be easy. It will take time and a lot of effort, and you will have your fair share of challenges along the way. However, if you keep at it over time, you will reap the physical, mental and psychological benefits. Think positively all the time, picture success, and you will make it there.
The benefits of exercising regularly cannot be overstated. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what condition you are in or what your life is all about; exercise is for every one of us. So get rid of all the excuses as to why you can’t do it, and start making things happen. If you are scared about doing it alone, find a motivated friend to bring along for the ride. It will be twice the fun!