Exercise Made Simple
My motivation to exercise tends to go through highs and lows. Some seasons, I exercise to excess and others, not nearly enough. I read the latest article telling me what the new “best” way to exercise is. And that seems to change from year to year. Its cardio – no its weights – no its cross fit –no its… The truth is – any activity is better than no activity. So don’t worry about the latest fad exercise program.
If you struggle to be consistent in your activity plan, like me, here are a few ideas that may help.
- Use exercise as a way to feel better, healthier and have more energy. Many studies have shown that weight loss is much more tied to what you eat than how many hours you are putting in exercising. In fact, when I was training 12-15 hours a week for a half-ironman, I actually gained weight. No – it wasn’t muscle either. Since I was training so much, I unconsciously gave myself permission to eat everything in sight. You can’t make up for a bad diet with exercise!
If your only motivation to exercise is to lose weight, it will be hard to stick with it especially if the scale isn’t moving. So, workout for your health and wellbeing. The rewards will be longer lasting than just working out for weight loss.
- Pick an activity that you enjoy. I have a son who really enjoys weight lifting, another who loves long distance running, and another whose favorite is hiking. They do those activities because they like them. And all three of them get the benefits of regular exercise, even though they do very different things.
I love walking, biking and swimming – hence triathlon. Except that triathlon includes running, and running quite honestly, is generally miserable for me. Once I realized that, and switched to race walking, I found that I am much more excited about my workout every day. Also, if you hate the gym, don’t think that paying a bunch of money for a membership is going to motivate you. You might force yourself to go for a few weeks, but soon your money will just be going to waste.
- Pick an activity that is convenient and simple to do. Swimming is another sport that I enjoy, but the closest lap pool is 40 miles away, so it is not something I can do very often. I’m just not going to drive into town 3 times a week to hit the pool. So be a realist when you plan your fitness program. For years, I have used exercise DVDs because – wait for it – they are convenient and simple to use. Right there in my basement, with no worries about who is going to see me, or cleaning up to go workout, I can exercise in peace.
That being said, you may be a person who is energized by working out with others. If so, find a walking partner, or an exercise class. Join a challenge on Fitbit or Garmin. There are a lot of ways to use technology to help you get motivated. One place I used to work had a yearly step challenge where we all wore a pedometer and got prizes for improvement as well as most steps.
- Any activity is better than none. It’s better to start small and build up, than it is to go too hard and too fast and end up quitting a couple of weeks later. There are lots of great beginner exercise plans on the internet. Just be sure to choose something simple that you know you will enjoy.
The benefits of regular exercise make it worth the effort to get it done. Your improving health and your higher energy level will be the best reward!