Breaking news! The magic pill you’ve all been waiting for! To improve your health, sleep better, de-stress, be happier, and lose weight, you have to EXERCISE! I know this comes as a big shock to most of you (note the hint of sarcasm), but getting more active really is a key component to taking charge of your health.
Now, I’m not talking about running marathons or doing century bike rides. But you do have to find the time every day to do some kind of purposeful activity that gets your heart rate up and challenges your muscles.
First, assess your current activity level. If you’re doing nothing, then start with 5-10 minutes every day of something. On the other hand, if you’re already exercising most days of the week, let’s see if we can shake it up a bit.
Second, make a list of the kinds of activities that you like to do. Choose from the following list:
- walking (outdoor or treadmill)
- biking (indoor or outdoor)
- boxing, tae bo
- boot camp
- weight training
Third, decide when is going to be the best time to exercise (which is a very personal matter). You have to figure out when you have the most energy and are most motivated to exercise and then pencil it into your daily calendar. Yes, I said daily. Start small, with just a few minutes a day and gradually add more time each day. You can also break it up into 2 to 3 short sessions a day. Keep in mind, studies do show that the people who are most successful at keeping off their lost weight usually exercise every morning. You get up , do it, and it’s out of the way. Plus, it gives you energy for the day.
Fourth, and most important, mix it up. Most people do the same routine every day. They become comfortable doing what they know; it’s safe and predictable. It also leads to injury, boredom, and weight stagnation. Enter “cross-training”. Have you heard of it?
With cross-training, the idea is to do something different everyday to challenge your body and burn more calories. If you do the same exercise every day, your body becomes well-trained at it and eventually uses less oxygen to complete the activity, burning fewer calories. Weight loss slows down and weight maintenance becomes difficult. By changing the exercise activity or increasing the intensity of your favorite workout, your body responds with an increased output. Cross-training conditions different muscle groups, develops a new set of skills, decreases boredom, and reduces over-use injuries.
So, are you motivated to exercise? Get out there today and improve your health! If you need help establishing an exercise program or would like to work with a trainer, make sure you work with someone who is credentialed in personal training or exercise physiology, or a sports nutritionist/dietitian.