Most of us know we should exercise regularly, but lack of physical activity continues to hold many of us back from achieving health and fitness goals.
Can you relate?
Studies show people who exercise regularly are healthier than those who don’t. That makes sense, right?
In addition to building and strengthening muscles, exercise supports our lymphatic system, improves multiple functions of the body and reduces the risk for illness and disease. Exercise also stimulates brain cell growth and makes us feel good – who doesn’t want that?!
Did you know that exercise:
- Keeps you young – Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults. Working out can keep you flexible, limber, and strong.
- Reduces infections – Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.
- Prevents heart attacks – Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
- Eases asthma – New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma (check with your doctor on this, of course).
- Controls blood sugar – Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type II diabetes.
- Protects against cancer – Exercise may reduce the risk of colon-cancer by speeding waste through the gut and lowering the insulin level. It may also protect against breast and prostate cancer by regulating hormone levels.
- Combats stress – Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
- Prolongs life – Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50% for both men and women.
- Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, running, and strength building with weights can protect bone health.
Exercise is the closest thing to the fountain of youth, and it can transform your health. A healthy diet is important too, of course.
People who exercise regularly are more flexible, look better, and age better than those who aren’t physically active. I don’t know about you, but if I can look younger and age more gracefully, I’m all for it!
Overcoming Roadblocks to Achieve Health and Fitness Goals
You might have good intentions of starting an exercise program, but for one reason or another, you just feel ‘stuck.’ You get in a rut and stay there. Take a step back and think about what you really want.
Think about how you truly want to look and feel. What is most important to you? Do you want to feel fit, healthy, sexy, confident, empowered, unstoppable, strong, comfortable in your own skin, younger? Something else maybe? If you could imagine anything for yourself, how would you like to look and feel?
Now, if you could think of one thing that’s holding you back or stopping you, what would that be? Does anything come to mind for you?
The three most common roadblocks to incorporating exercise into one’s lifestyle are time, knowledge, and motivation.
Can you relate to one of these reasons? There was a time when I could relate to all three.
Everyone is busy, busy, busy!
The good news is you don’t have to spend hours at a gym. There are plenty of ways to fit various forms of exercise into your routine, without taking time away from your family or commitments. Of course, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Set aside one block of time each day to be active. You can get a good full-body workout in 30 minutes. So decide on the best time to set aside 20 to 30 minutes to do an activity you enjoy – or at least one you can live with. If one block of time won’t work, think about trying smaller chunks of time; 10 minutes three times a day or 15 minutes twice a day.
Replace less active blocks of time with active ones. If you sit at a desk at work, get up and take more breaks to move around and walk during lunch. Grab a coworker and walk together if you want.
Walk for half an hour instead of watching an extra half hour of TV, surfing the net, or hanging out on social media. Instead of sitting down to read a book, read while on an exercise bike or treadmill, or listen to a podcast.
Stand more while you’re at work. If you have the option to work at a standing desk, considering doing so, they’re awesome. Many of us sit for more than 10 hours each day, which is bad for our posture and activity level. With a standing desk that is adjustable, it can sit on top of your desk, and you adjust the height to use for sitting or standing so you can do both during the day.
Use a Swiss Ball (Yoga ball) as a chair at your desk. Using a yoga ball forces you to engage your inner core muscles throughout the day and challenges your balance.
Make choices to move more. Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Bike or walk to places that are within distance. Park away from the store or the office and walk to the entrance.
Sometimes feeling like we don’t know where to start can hold us back. But it’s easy to begin by walking. Just 15-20 minutes, most days or at least 4-5 times a week, is enough to start if the activity is new for you.
Once your practice becomes a habit, up your game by including other modalities such as strength training, yoga, cycling, etc. Once you have been walking regularly for 3-4 weeks, you will have created a new habit. Then it’s time to add something else to your routine.
There are so many different activities you can do for exercise; take a dance class or a group fitness class, workout at home with a YouTube video, try kickboxing or Martial Arts, or you can hire a personal trainer. Change up your routine every 4-6 weeks so you don’t get bored and you continue to see progress.
Is there something you’ve been thinking about trying? Now is the perfect time to get out there and get started.
Related Post: Get Active, Increase Your Energy, Feel And Look Awesome
Lack of Motivation
We all have excuses that creep up. But that’s when we need to ask ourselves a question like “If this was a top priority for me, would I be able to make the time for it?”
Is your reason for doing bigger than your reason for not doing? When it is, it’s easier to make yourself go. You don’t always have to feel ‘motivated,’ but seeing progress will motivate you to keep at it.
Crank your music up while your walking outside or on the treadmill. Join a challenge or find a friend for accountability, set a goal to train for an event – you can even just walk a 5k. Fitness tracking devices like a Fitbit, are great to help keep you motivated and on track.
Finding a workout partner is great too. You can help keep each other accountable and on track and time flies by. Before you know it, you’ve been exercising for 30-40 minutes, and you’re done!
Start where you are right now and commit to moving forward from here. Focus on where you want to go – how you want to look and feel.
Will one workout make a difference? No.
Will 4 workouts make a difference? Not really.
Would 208 workouts make a difference? Certainly!
If you worked out just four times a week, at the end of a year, you’d have worked out 208 times!
A year from now, image how you would look and feel after 208 workouts! That starts with your decision today. It all comes down to your daily habits.
It’s better to start out slowly and then gradually increase the time, intensity, and frequency of your workouts. This will build your strength and stamina and reduce the chance of injury.
Set your goals based on your current fitness level. Make the goal challenging enough, so you’ve something to strive for, but not so high that you get discouraged and frustrated.
You may be surprised at how quickly you make progress. Set a short-term goal for 2-3 weeks from now. Maybe your goal is to start out walking 20 minutes 4 days a week, for example. After 2-3 weeks, bump that up to 30 minutes 5 times a week.
Make Health and Fitness a Priority and Reach Your Goals
Everyone is busy. We all have the same 24 hours though. Some people have commitments like an 8-5 job they have to work around. Others have kids schedules, meal schedules, and meetings they have to work around. Yet, it only takes a decision to do something and to commit to it.
Take your weekly calendar out and block out all the time slots that are already booked and set in stone. Look at your open time slots and then block out a 15-30 minute slot each day for yourself – your exercise time. Then fit in other obligations around that.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen R. Covey
Make sure you are on your list of priorities. Scheduling is key. If you think of it this way “Your schedule is your life.” The way you run your schedule is the way you run your life. What you schedule is a reflection of what your priorities are.
Put yourself on your schedule.
Deciding that exercise is a priority and working other things around it is the first step to incorporating it into your wellness routine. If it’s not a big enough priority, ‘excuses’ always creep up.
Ask yourself how and when you can fit in 20-30 minutes of activity, 5 days a week. Write it down.
Grab your calendar and schedule your days and times for this week. When you put something on your calendar, it’s easier to make it happen. Think of it as a necessary appointment that you’re making.