Exercise is not evil
We’ve all been there, it’s December, the holiday season is upon you. You’re at a party, have had one too many desserts mixed with one too many cocktails and you’re feeling guilty for not being “healthier”. New Years Eve rolls around and you’ve begun writing a long list of ambitious resolutions. This year will be different, you’ll cut out sugar, hit the gym more often and catch up on sleep. January is successful, you’ve been going to the gym 4 days a week, you’ve cut the sweets and are in bed by 10 every night; it’s a miracle!
By mid February things start to slide, you miss a few gym days, give into your Snickers craving and stay up late binge watching Netflicks. Before you know it you’re in a full-blown nose dive back to where you started; lazy, full of sugar and sleep deprived. The feelings of guilt are strong, feelings of disgust at your lack of drive and ambition overtake you and you start the negative thought-cycle just like last time, why can’t I stick to this lifestyle?
There are so many excuses we make as to why we don’t exercise. Not enough time, low energy, too expensive, no babysitter, too difficult, previous injuries and the list goes on. The main reason why we don’t stick to a regular fitness routine? It’s hard work. It takes a conscious effort to consistently make the decision to exercise and if we miss a workout we can become discouraged and unmotivated.
“Of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy everybody would do it. Hard is what makes it great.” A League of Their Own. Source: Activebeat.com
According to a 2009 scientific study conducted by the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, it took up to 66 days of doing something in order to form a new habit. This means that in order to adopt a regular exercise regime that will last for years to come, you would need to attend every day for just over three months! Every day may seem like a stretch but you can try doing 2-3 days to start, take one day off per week or do a low-impact exercise like yoga or Pilates for your rest day.
“Exercise to be fit, not skinny, eat to nourish your body and always ignore the haters, doubters and unhealthy examples that were once feeding you. You are worth more than you realize.” Source: Activebeat.com
The options for exercise these days are endless. Not into the gym thing? Why not try taking up running or biking? Both get you out in nature, you get to breath the fresh air while doing something good for your body. Need some pointers on how to start a running routine? Check out Runner’s World which has endless amounts of information on all things running. Live in North America? The Running Room offers running clinics, race training and even free group runs at all their locations. They also sell running gear, hydration options and offer free foot assessments for finding the perfect running shoe.
If you decide to take up cycling as a form of exercise be sure to take the proper safety precautions and read up on your local cycling laws and regulations. One website I found that has lots of useful information about the world of cycling is Cycling News.
Want a gentle exercise option? There are many forms for low-impact exercise to suit any level of fitness such as yoga, pilates, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. The beauty of low-impact exercise is the focus on gentle movement which can help with circulation, balance and alignment. The addition of meditation and breathing practices mean that it can help participants achieve a state of calmness which can aid with many mental health issues. Though these forms of exercise are gentle, it is always recommended to first consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new fitness program.
Like to dance? Why not try a Zumba or Barre class? Zumba is a form of exercise that involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music. Source: Wikipedia. These classes are offered at gyms around the world. Any former ballerinas out there? Barre is a form of physical exercise, usually conducted in group classes in gyms or specialty studios. It is distinguished from other groups of fitness activity by its use of the ballet barre and its incorporation of movements derived from ballet. Source: Wikipedia
Looking for a new fitness challenge? Why not try trampoline, CrossFit, indoor rock climbing or swimming? Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weight lifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises. Source: Wikipedia If your fitness motto is “go big or go home” then one of these high-intensity options are for you! Are team sports more your thing? There are many adult leagues available for team sports like floor hockey, softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball and even dodge ball. Most require very little in terms of equipment and being part of a team is a great way to meet new people, socialize and stay in shape.
What about winter? Well you can continue many of all of the above-mentioned sports (even running and biking can be done through the winter indoors or outdoors) but there are also many winter-specific options to try. Cross country skiing is one great cardio workout which requires special skis, boots, poles and good endurance. Snow shoeing is a similar form of winter exercise which you strap on to your shoes and walk across the snow, this is a great option for walking in deep snow. Another great winter sport is alpine skiing or snowboarding where the participant wears special boots that clip into skis or a snowboard and is used to travel down a large hill or mountain. Both sports require balance, some flexibility and agility but are an exhilarating form of exercise.
One thing you’re probably wondering is how can you get motivated to start a new fitness routine and how can you fit exercise into your already packed schedule. Those are both very good questions. Unfortunately, there is no easy, one size fits all answer. As I mentioned before, you have to dig deep sometimes and really make the effort instead of making excuses. Having a workout buddy is definitely essential if you are just starting out with a new program. Being able to stay accountable to another person, or having a more experienced friend to get you out and help keep you on track is key for longevity in fitness.
As for fitting it in, you may need to carve out that time in your day. Getting up early every morning and doing one yoga video is my personal way of making time during the day for my health. When I was working outside the home I had one hour each day for lunch, a few days a week I would use that hour to go to the gym near my work and do a class or weight workout. Evening runs or bike rides are another favourite way to get that workout in before bed. The main thing here is to find some way to make exercise possible in your life. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself if you happen to get off-track, it’s not the end of the world if you miss one or two workouts, just get back to it and pat yourself on the back for your efforts.
The main reason to incorporate exercise into your life? Not only does it improve your physical well being, but it can also have a positive effect on your mental and emotional health. I hope this post is motivational, that it can offer you a different perspective on the why and how of creating a lasting fitness regime and overall lifestyle change. Feel free to add anything I missed in the comments below and let me know your tips on getting and staying motivated to exercise.
In the end, the only person who can make the change is you, only you can get your butt off the couch and to your exercise of choice. We all have the time and energy in our lives and bodies but it is up to us to uncover it and make it work for us. How will you change you body, mind and spirit today?
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