Making Exercise a Part of Your Life

Making Exercise a Part of Your Life

Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways of improving your physical and mental health.

This includes reducing your risk for serious health problems, easing depression and anxiety, boosting your energy and mood, and relieving stress.  Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. No matter your age or fitness level, there are lots of enjoyable ways to use physical activity to help you feel better, look better, and enjoy life more.

But setting aside the time to exercise isn't always easy, even under the best circumstances. There are a few rules that could help to give you the support you need to make exercise a regular part of your life.  When followed, these tips may even make finding the time to exercise so much easier that you actually start to enjoy it! The key is to change your approach to exercise and think about what you do that helps or, sometimes, hurts your chances of success.

Here are 5 exercise rules to make it easier to plan, prepare and commit to your workouts.

1. Plan Ahead

Your busy schedule means you need to plan better and prepare for your workouts ahead of time, so as not to ruin your plans. Here are some tips on planning ahead:

  • Map it out - Work out a timetable for gym days and the workouts you'll do on those days. Knowing what you'll do and what you need to do it makes it easier to prepare ahead of time
  • Pack up - The night before, pack your bag with everything you need – Workout gear, shoes, water bottle, lifting gloves, etc.
  • Bringing snacks and meals – You do not want to end up being too hungry to exercise.  Keep quick,  healthy snacks like yogurt, cheese, fruit or energy bars in the car and at work so you're always prepared.

2. Give Yourself Time

Establishing an exercise program is not just about having goals or making a plan. You need to invest time before you reap the benefits.  This allows you to:

  • Figure out what you enjoy and what you’re good at – give yourself time to try out different activities.
  • Work on your schedule – it takes trial and error to see what works best with your schedule.
  • Learn the exercises – we weren’t born knowing how to exercise. You need the time to learn the moves and practice good form to work the correct muscles.
  • Build strength and stamina – Your body needs to get accustomed to working out before you can reap the benefits.

3. Listen to Your Body

You get to know your body better through regular exercise. You discover what your body is capable of and what your limits are. If you feel any of the following, you may need to take it down a notch:

  • Pain – We often ignore signs of an injury, especially if the pain is intermittent. When you feel something unusual, stop and try other activities to work your body in a different way. Never work through the pain.
  • Fatigue – Exercise should give you energy. If you feel more and more tired as the workout goes on, that’s a sign your body needs a break.

4. Fully Commit to Your Workouts

When you decide to work out, you feel committed at the time, but more often than not, there is an “unless” behind it – “I’ll work out today unless I’m too tired/something else comes up. Avoid swaying your decision by trying these tips:

  • Schedule it – Make it official by putting it down in your diary and scheduling it.
  • Make it non-negotiable – Show up for your workout, no matter what.  Even if you only warm up, you're still showing your commitment.
  • Have something to look forward to – Committing to exercise is easier if you know something good comes after it – give yourself a treat after each work out to keep you going back for more – A soak in the hot tub, a massage after a week or month of workouts or a getaway once you've been consistent for 6 months.

5. Embrace Variety

We tend to be creatures of habit and once we find a program we like or at least one we can tolerate, we stick to it. Doing the same thing for too long can cause boredom, burnout and injury. Some tips to enhance your workout:

  • Change it – Change an aspect of your workout every 4 to 6 weeks. Try a new cardio exercise, different strength moves or take a new class.

Evolve with your lifestyle – Allow your workouts to change with your lifestyle. Our needs and interests change over time and there is nothing wrong in seeking out new ways to exercise.