Getting into the rhythm of working out
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy, shed fat, and build muscle. Everybody knows that, so why don’t more of us do it? The truth is that even when we like the idea of it, getting into good, regular workout habits is hard. There are physiological reasons for this – when you start working out, you start changing the way that your metabolism works, which is good but takes effort. There’s also the psychological challenge of breaking out of established patterns and building up your confidence. To begin with, exercise often just feels like hard work, but as you do more of it, you’ll find that it lifts your spirits and energizes you. How can you get to that stage?
Building exercise into your daily routine
One of the easiest ways to start exercising daily is to think about ways that you can fit it into your existing routine. This begins with putting more physicality into the things that you’re doing anyway – for instance, by walking or cycling to work instead of driving (even if you have to take public transport part of the way), or putting on music and dancing as you do the housework. Even small changes like this will make a difference. If you want to watch your favorite TV show or read a book, why not cycle on an exercise bike as you do so? You only need to elevate your heart rate by a small amount to start getting fitter.
When you’re ready to do more, think about how you could fit workouts into your life. If there’s a gym in or near your workplace, could you use it at lunchtime? Can you take ten minutes to do push-ups or sit-ups in the morning before you get going? Longer workouts at the weekend can be useful, but when you first start out, limiting these to 15 or 20 minutes at a time makes it easier to commit to doing them regularly. Ideally, you should aim to do 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, spread across three to five days, but when you’re new to working out, the most important thing is to get into good habits and not push so hard that you can’t sustain it.
Working around common challenges
When people talk about why they can’t get into regular workout habits, the same issues come up again and again. There are simple ways around many of these problems.
- If you’re shy about going to the gym, remember that whatever you may see on TV, most people using gyms don’t have perfectly toned bodies. If you really don’t feel able to do it, you can work out at home.
- If you hate formal exercise, there are lots of other ways to keep fit. Simply walking, swimming, or going for a relaxed bike ride will help, or you can dance or play chasing games with your kids.
- If you have a really busy schedule, you can split workouts into ten-minute sessions or exercise as you go – for instance, by walking around the office as you take calls.
- If you have a disability, you can work with a physiotherapist to develop a personalized exercise program. Almost everybody can do something to improve fitness.
Dealing with injuries
When you have managed to get into a regular pattern of exercise and you suddenly have to stop because of an injury, it can be really frustrating. The longer you have to leave it before you can start again, the harder it ultimately is to get back into it. Fortunately, there are some kinds of clothing that can provide you with support and help you to start again more quickly. If you’re looking for newer styles, you shouldn’t have a problem because compression workout gear is becoming more and more popular, with people realizing that it can also help them to use their muscles more efficiently during exercise.
If you want to know the real secret that lets some people get into exercise easily while others struggle, it’s this: they don’t find it hard work. This doesn’t mean that their bodies are not feeling the burn; it means that they’re not doing it because they feel they have to, but because they enjoy it. Working out should be fun. Find activities that you enjoy. Listen to your favorite music while you do it. Go to the gym with friends, or don’t go to the gym at all and work out in the park instead. If you’re having a good time, you’ll find it much easier to keep going. When you start to look forward to your workouts, you’ll know that you’re going to be okay.