How to Create an Exercise Routine That Will Last
Before you start on a new exercise routine you need to examine your motivations. Shallow reasons such ‘I want to look better for the beach‘ will probably not be enough to keep you going through the sweat and hard work needed to make a difference.
Having said that, looking good for the beach is a nice perk to being fit and healthy!
Reasons to Start a Daily Exercise Routine
- You Will Feel Better – Exercise is a great antidote to stress and low mood. After a hard workout you will feel relaxed, and in a more positive mood. Studies have shown than even low levels of exercise can be as effective, or more effective than anti-depressants.
- You Will Have More Energy – Your body will respond to your daily exercise by giving you more energy to work with during the day. It can be a difficult cycle to break, you have no energy because you don’t workout, and you don’t workout because you have no energy. Perhaps you could make a pact with yourself to workout every day for two weeks, and see how it goes. At the end of the two weeks your workouts shouldn’t feel quite so hard and you will have an extra pop in your step from your increased fitness.
- Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels – Reducing risk of stroke and heart problems.
- You Will Sleep Better – Ever lie awake at night trying to get to sleep ? Nothing particularly stressing you, but still you fidget and toss and turn, you’ve not had caffeine and there appears to be no reason that you can’t sleep. In this case it might just be lack of exercise keeping you awake. Exercise helps your body set up the daytime/nigh time rhythm, it produces hormones that signal to your body that you need rest, and overall you should get a much better nights sleep if you have done a workout sometime during the day. It was suggested at one time that exercise before bedtime can make it difficult to get to sleep, but this is now considered to be untrue, in fact the tiring effect of a workout combined with the de-stressing effect can help you get off to sleep much quicker than you normally would.
- You Will Lose Weight Easier – Cutting back the body fat usually means cutting back the calories. The problem with this is that your body will lower its metabolic rate to compensate. Doing regular exercise will keep your idle metabolic rate high enough to make your diet actually work.
- Reduced the Risk of Major Illnesses – Cancer, diabetes and various other serious illnesses are significantly less likely if you have an exercise routine.
- Increases Your Lifespan – Research by the American Heart Foundation found that for each hour of exercise done, you’ll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy.
- You Will Have More Brain Power! – There have been several recent studies that show that an increase in fitness leads to an increase in cognitive ability. These are not small changes either. Exercise produces growth factors that lead to an increase in size of those parts of the brain responsible for thinking, learning, and memory. Exercise has also been shown to slow or stop the cognitive decline with age, and reduce the effects of diseases like Parkinson and Alzheimers in older patients.
- Strengthens the Bones – The stress put on bones during a workout will result in the bones becoming stronger. This in turn will reduce the risk of injuries both of younger people doing crazy things like extreme sports, and to older people who are risk of falling injuries.
How Do You Stick to an Exercise Routine Once You’ve Started It?
- Find an Exercise Buddy – One of the best ways is to exercise with a friend. You will not want to let them down, or appear lazy or wimpy. This can be a very strong motivation to get you out of your comfy chair. This is especially effective if you are playing a two person game such as squash, where you know you will be ruining the exercise routine of your partner, as well as your own.
- Join a Group – Along similar lines to having a exercise buddy, is to join a club such as step aerobics, Zumba or Dancercise, try a running or cycling club, or try a team sport. As well as building friendships you will also build a sense of camaraderie that will give a push out of the door.
- Choose a Time, and Stick to It – If you have to exercise on your own you will be sorely tempted to give it a miss today. One way to avoid this is to build a daily routine, at a specific time you do your exercise. Even if you are not feeling brilliant that day, still do a small workout, even just go through the motions. The point of this is to build a habit, and habits are by definition something easy to keep doing. Some fitness coaches suggest doing a placeholder workout for two weeks before starting you real regime, solely to form a habit. The ‘placeholder’ could be as little as 10 pushups, just anything to get you fixed on the idea that xx time is workout time.
- Schedule It – The last point is so important it needs repeating, or at least viewing from a different angle. Your lifestyle might not allow you to choose a specific time to do a workout, and maybe 7 or 5 days per week is too much for you. In this case consider writing a schedule of your workouts for the week ahead. Choose you days and times and write them in your diary. If you don’t have a diary now is good time to buy one. If you plan on fitting in a workout when you have few spare minutes, it’s probably not going to happen. Schedule it and it will be much more likely.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a session, you are only human. Make sure you don’t miss the next session. What you don’t want to do is give up because you are not reaching your expectations. Maybe your expectations were too high, if you really can’t manage five or seven days a week then maybe set yourself a more realistic goal, such as every other day, or just two or three days a week.
- Start off Slowly – Along the lines of the previous tip, your exercise should not be so hard that you give up after the first session. It’s better to start too low and build up, rather than start high and give up.
- Use a Journal, Calendar or App to Keep Track of Your Workouts – These will not allow you to cheat yourself into thinking you have done more than you have.
- Don’t Go to the Gym – Not unless you enjoy it. There are literally hundreds of ways of doing exercise, so choose the ones you enjoy. You are much more likely to keep doing the exercises you find fun.
- Make It More Fun – If kite-surfing or white water rafting are not your thing, you can make more traditional exercise more enjoyable by bringing along a portable music player, you could load your favourite music playlist, educate yourself with a podcast, or listen to an audio book.
- Commit to 5 Minutes – If you have decided, again that you can’t be bothered to do a workout today, just focus on getting 5 minutes of your workout done, as well as setting and keeping the habit mentioned previously, there’s a good chance that once you are started you will see that it’s not as bad as you were expecting, and will go on to complete the workout.
- Embrace Your Successes – So you managed an extra five reps today. Make sure you acknowledge these small wins, and remind yourself that you really are moving along a path of self improvement.
- Revisit the Reasons – Keep your motivation high by revisiting the list of benefits at the top of this article.