We all know that exercise, along with a good diet, is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle, yet so many of us have trouble getting and staying in the habit of exercising every day. This is understandable; many forms of exercise are not exactly fun, and some are downright painful. Plus, exercise takes the place of other activities, and many people feel that they just cannot fit a daily 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity into their schedule. If you feel this way, you are not alone.
But just because you have historically had trouble getting motivated to exercise does not mean you have to stay that away. You can make the change today. Just keep these seven things in mind, and you will soon find that setting aside a little bit of time every day to exercise is not just easy but indispensable to your life.
1. Exercise is #1: We all have many important things in our lives, and we try to balance these things when organizing our days. Too often exercise gets set aside because we think of it as less important that other responsibilities. It is time to revise this attitude. While other things are important, exercise is paramount because it increases all your physical and mental capabilities, making you better prepared for all those other activities. Plus, it helps ensure that you will be there for your family as long as possible.
2. Exercise gets easier: If you have not been in the habit of exercising for quite some time, keep In mind that the first few days of your new exercise routine are going to be the hardest. That is when you will be most out of breath, when your muscles and joints will ache the most, and when the urge to give up will be most powerful. After that, as your body gets stronger and more fit, the initial difficulty will subside and you will be more able to enjoy the activity.
3. Start slow: Set aside all the scary images you have in your mind about what exercise entails. You do not have to run 10 miles, lift your body-weight, or strike near-impossible yoga poses. You may someday work your way toward those things, but for now you do not have to be ambitious. Start with short bursts of exercise that do not overtax you. The key is to elevate your heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes a day. Once you get in the habit of doing that, then you can start think of adding difficulty to your routine.
4. Do it early: If you are the type of person who will procrastinate your exercise session and dread it all day, get it done first thing in the morning. You do not even have to think about it. Just get up and go, and before you know it, it will be over. After that, you can go through your whole day knowing that you accomplished something difficult and do not have to do it again until tomorrow.
5. Break it up: Alternatively, you can split your exercise routine into two or three very manageable sessions daily. This way, every short burst of exercise can feel like a break from your daily routine.
6. Integrate it into your life: One way to get exercise is to arrange your life so that it is simply required. One popular tip is to park your car far away from work so that you are required to walk those extra steps every day. Or, if you really want to go for it, you can get out of the habit of using your car except for long trips. These days, many cities and towns are making it easier to bike to work, or perhaps you are lucky enough to live in an area where you can walk.
7. Reward yourself: There are lots of ways you can reward yourself for your good exercise habits. For example, you can set aside a modest amount of money and tell yourself that you are allowed to get yourself a treat after 30 30-minute exercise sessions. Of course, you will probably want to avoid rewarding yourself with food. Another option is to give yourself three or four days off after a few weeks of consistency—though this can be risky, since good exercise is about making it a sustained habit.
By Lisa Pecos