We all know that exercise is important, but it seems only a few successfully make it a part of their daily life. Many try to get started, of course, but it seems most eventually stop. They find it impossible to keep up, citing their lack of time, equipment, and energy.
Truth be told, exercise isn’t just about doing all those routines that you see ripped people do. You don’t necessarily have to run for miles every morning or lift weights at the gym. Anything that makes you move and sweat can be considered exercise—even dancing happily in the privacy of your room helps you burn calories.
What’s crucial as you start adopting a more physically active lifestyle, though, is knowing that obstacles do exist and that procrastination is something you’ll have to beat to succeed. Well, by following our simple guide here, going through each step of the process should be easier.
You’ll manage to come up with your goals and have the right mindset as you begin. And, you will be ready to keep your momentum and avoid the temptation of setting things aside or quitting. We’ll even help you take it to the next level once you’re ready. Excited? Let’s get started!
Benefits of Exercise: Why You Should Do It
Again, it’s generally known that exercise is crucial to staying fit and healthy. But have you ever wondered how it helps? Aren’t you a bit curious about the benefits it brings? Well, knowing what’s in it for you is one of the best ways to stick to something.
There is a myriad of advantages to getting into exercise and ultimately into a healthy lifestyle. In fact, these perks can be divided into two broad categories, namely physical and mental. Here are some of the best ones you can get to enjoy, regardless of your age, sex, or career:
- It may seem like a very obvious answer, but enhancing your physical performance is one of the biggest reasons to work out.
- Exercise can help increase your strength, improve your flexibility, and increase your stamina—three things that’ll help you in your everyday life.
- Spending time burning calories lowers your risk of suffering from heart disease, and makes it easier to maintain lower blood pressure.
- Physically active people are less likely to develop certain cancers (i.e., colon, breast, uterine, and lung) compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle.
- Exercise strengthens the bones and joints, while at the same lowers risks of osteoporosis.
- Last but not least, exercising on a regular basis tones your muscles and even facilitates muscle development, making you feel stronger and look better.
- A lot of people feel much sharper mentally, especially when coming off a workout—and this does not come as a coincidence.
- Exercise increases both your energy and hormone production, keeping your brain boosted even on dreary days.
- Being physically active leads to better mental clarity, which allows for better decision making and better coping with mental stress.
- Engaging in any kind of physical activity will help shake off whatever is stressing you out at any moment.
- Beyond providing a welcome distraction on life’s turmoil, exercise also activates your body’s natural responses against stress.
- Regularly exercising will help lift your self-image since you’re able to overcome your physical limitations, and you become more satisfied with what you see in the mirror.
Key Takeaway: Exercising is highly beneficial in so many ways. It can improve you physically, mentally, and even emotionally, making you better equipped to live the life you want.
Before You Begin: Goals and Mindset
In just about every journey, the most difficult part is always getting started. But of course, you always got to start somewhere. It’s difficult to get that first move going. However, once you get it going, your chances of sticking to a healthy lifestyle become much better.
So, where should you begin, and how can you get started? Follow these steps to get your fitness journey on the right track:
1. Ask yourself why you’re doing it
It is important that you know why you’re doing what you are doing to begin with. Likewise, it is crucial that you are doing this for the right reasons.
Before getting engaged in workouts, we encourage that you write down all the reasons why you want to exercise. From the deep to the trivial, every answer that comes to your mind is correct.
2. Adopt the right mindset
Now, think if these reasons you’ve listed are worth pursuing and compelling enough to get you engaged in fitness. If you do believe that they’re goals worthy of your time, you’ve started setting the right mindset for your fitness journey.
Here’s a tip, though—the more reasons or goals you have, the better. Only wanting to look slimmer might get you fired up at the start, but it won’t be enough to get you going for the long haul. In fact, it’s best to aim for all the perks of physical activity, from a better physique to improved confidence and positivity.
Key Takeaway: Being prepared is important to be able to kick off your fitness journey at the right note. You got to figure out why you want to do it, and you have to ask yourself whether you’re willing to go through with it.
Going for a Good Start: Basics of Exercise
You’ve already listed your reasons, and you’ve adopted the right mindset for this endeavor. So, it’s about time to finally get started with actual physical activity. Truth be told, it’s in this critical step that many end up failing and quitting—but don’t worry, we’re here to help you out.
1. Find the right activity
One of the best ways to get the results that you want is to find fitness activities that you will be interested in. After all, everything becomes better and easier when you are enjoying what you are doing. But of course, you should also consider your current fitness level as well as your resources.
Running might seem fun, but are you really ready for the intensity it entails? You might be interested in swimming, although are you willing to drive at least an hour to the nearest pool each time you need to exercise?
Well, keep in mind that the simplest options, such as taking a stroll, are perfectly good, especially if you’ve been sedentary this whole time or if you don’t have much time on your hands. It’s often ideal to start with the easiest, though still sufficiently fun activity (or activities) as you begin to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Getting frustrated with a routine’s difficulty and the other challenges that come with it will only make you consider quitting way before you notice any benefits. And if you do end up quitting, getting started once more might become harder.
2. Create (or choose) a program
Once you have an activity in mind, the next step is to create a program that you will follow. Having a program is a must to make your workouts systematic.
When creating a program, it has to be appropriate for both your fitness level and your schedule. It’s useless to create a program that you can never follow, to begin with for those aforementioned reasons. You can build a program from scratch based on the constraints of your schedule and physical state.
Say you’ve chosen walking as your physical activity. It’s something easy enough to do no matter how busy you are, and it isn’t that physically taxing either. For best results, your program should be realistic, measurable, and time-bound.
Here’s an example: do five minutes of walking during the afternoon every day except Saturday, increasing the duration by two minutes each week until you’re able to walk with ease for thirty minutes straight. Not only is that achievable daily, but you’ll also quickly know whether you’ve been missing your targets or you’ve actually been making progress.
If you want something that’s more varied (which is good if you’re easily bored with doing the same routine), consider this sample schedule:
|Tuesday||Five-Minute Biking session|
|Thursday||Five-Minute Brisk Run|
|Saturday||Rest (or just mild stretching)|
|Sunday||Rest (or just mild stretching)|
Does coming up with your own program seem challenging? Can’t decide? Consider searching for beginner-friendly routines on sites like YouTube. There are tons of free-to-access options currently available for every fitness level and activity type, and they do have the advantage of being quite entertaining.
3. Consider socializing
If you’re the individualist, you can always go about your exercise routine alone. But, getting into a fitness lifestyle can be made much easier if you have the right people around you.
There are all kinds of social groups formed with health and fitness as the primary concern. These groups can help you in different kinds of ways, from providing support to doing group workouts.
Socializing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but being around the right set of people will not hurt at all. Consider socializing to make your fitness journey even better.
4. Allow time to recover
As you’ve probably noticed from our examples, having adequate recovery time is important for anyone who’s into fitness. Rest is crucial, regardless if you’re a weekend warrior or a world-class athlete.
Having enough rest is necessary to give your body enough time to heal. It is also vital to avoid burnout—one of the biggest issues any fitness enthusiast can face.
Even when you’re on a roll physically, it is important that you place rest days strategically. Also, you got to listen to your body and mind when you are getting overworked.
5. Work on your dietary habits
No, exercise alone won’t be enough if you really wish to improve your health. In fact, if you aren’t eating right, you might be preventing yourself from getting maximum rewards from your daily physical activity. There’s also the possibility of not having enough energy for your workout.
Don’t worry, though, as there is no need to do extensive calorie counting or monitoring your macros. You’re just starting out in your journey and you don’t need additional seemingly impossible hurdles. Simply follow these pointers and you’ll be good to go:
- Only eat when you’re hungry (appetite fades, but hunger does not)
- Make an effort to eat more veggies while limiting your fat intake
- Have protein in each meal (meat, seeds, and lentils are good options)
- Avoid heavily processed food items and be wary of additives
- Try your best to stay away from sugary beverages and desserts
- As much as possible, take time to prepare your own meals
Key Takeaway: Building on your fitness routine takes multiple steps to make it work. Creating a suitable program, getting people involved, allotting time for rest, and maintaining good eating habits will help keep you going.
Maintaining Momentum, Staying Engaged
There should be no finish line when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle built around exercise never ends for those who are motivated.
That said, you must stay motivated to continue exercising and keep on reaping its benefits. Even if you have accomplished your goals, even when you have eclipsed most of your expectations, the hunger for reaching new heights should always be present.
You need to keep that fire burning, even when the urge to quit (or at least settle for less) is looming. This urge will always be present, but your desire will help you overcome it.
There are many ways to stay motivated in working out, such as watching inspirational stories and thinking of new goals. Those are just some ways to do it. Here are a couple more ideas:
1. Don’t hesitate to diversify
Changing things up from time to time is one of the best ways to add variety to your workouts. It is also a great way to continue increasing your gains as you move forward.
With so many fitness activities that you can try, it would be quite counterproductive if you would limit yourself to just a single activity.
When you diversify your physical activity, you can enjoy some very nice advantages. It will help push your body towards limits it has yet to explore, and it also allows you to get in touch with a new set of people on your fitness journey.
Even something as simple as switching between cardio and strength training should work wonderfully, especially if things are starting to get monotonous. Also, it is possible to do both types in a single day. Check out this example:
|Monday||fifteen-minute walk, fifteen squats|
|Wednesday||five bicep curls, five lunges, five lateral raises|
|Thursday||five-minute brisk run|
|Friday||five-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT)|
|Saturday||Rest (or a mild stroll or cardio)|
|Sunday||Rest (or a mild stroll or cardio)|
2. Help others get started
You may eventually reach an advanced state in your exercise journey. But always remember that once in your endeavor, you also started out as a beginner.
One of the most fulfilling things that you can do as a fitness enthusiast is to share the lifestyle with someone else. And, the best way to do that is by helping others get started.
When you see someone who is getting started in their fitness journey, be that helping hand that will guide him/her to the process. Also, don’t be afraid to encourage people to try a healthy lifestyle for a change.
3. Workaround any new hurdles
There are many reasons why people tend to quit exercise. Among the top reasons include age, injuries, priorities, and burnout. They may seem like legitimate reasons to turn back on being sufficiently physically active, but the truth is that these things shouldn’t ever hinder you.
These limitations may prevent you from enjoying exercise like you used to, but you can always make adjustments. Compromise, not quitting, is the best approach to staying fit even when life hits you.
Key Takeaway: Keeping it going may not be easy. But staying motivated, diversifying, helping others, and compensating will help you keep going even when things get tough with time.
Maximize and Evolve: What Lies Beyond
You can gain a lot of improvements simply by deciding that you want to exercise. But, have you ever wondered how you can get the best results possible in the long run? They say that the thing that separates the great from the good is that little extra. To get that edge, here are some of the things that you can do:
1. Understand that it’s not just exercise
There are some people who are in the gym almost every day, and yet they don’t get that ultra-fit body. More often than not, it’s what they do when they’re not working out that’s holding them back.
You also got to improve other aspects of your lifestyle to get the most out of your fitness routine. It’s not enough to just work out and expect to have peak physique and performance. From following a more balanced diet to cutting on some of your vices and excesses, all these matter in getting the results you want.
2. Perfect your technique
Trainers would always emphasize that you need to follow the right form. If you want to maximize your progress, one of the best ways is to do it is to perfect your technique.
Using proper form allows you to work on the muscles targeted by each exercise most effectively. More than increased efficiency of motion, proper form is also essential for preventing injuries.
Whether you’re running, lifting weights, or performing complex routines, make sure that you always follow the proper form.
3. Upgrade your gear and equipment
A fully functional set of sportswear isn’t just for the show. You need clothes and footwear that are appropriate for the exercises you will be doing for optimal comfort, performance, and safety.
Also, if you choose to do exercises at home, you will have to invest in exercise equipment as well. Get exercise equipment based on financial and space considerations and adjust your routine accordingly.
4. Assess your fitness level
If it seems that you’ve already plateaued, it’s time to make an objective assessment of your fitness level. After all, it’s useless to follow an inappropriate program (either too easy or too hard) for you.
One simple way to assess your fitness level is to check your heart rate. The faster your heart rate rises (and the faster you get exhausted) at a certain level of activity, the poorer your fitness level is.
Aside from giving your maximum effort in every workout, you should also constantly test your limits. Give your best in every workout and you’ll get rewarded for it sooner than later.
Still, we would recommend that you get assessed by a medical professional before engaging in any kind of physical activity. It’s also likely that you’ll get insights on activities that are better suited for you. More importantly, you’ll get to find out if you have any health issues to address before trying to reach the next level.
Key Takeaway: Maximizing your gains is all about putting in the extra work in your workouts. Improve your overall lifestyle, record your progress, master proper technique, and give your best in every workout.
Starting with your exercise journey won’t be the easiest thing, especially if you’ve been sedentary all these years. But, as you’ve learned here, it can be done, and the challenge can be minimized.
Staying physically active and working towards holistic health is an endless pursuit, although it’s one that brings endless benefits as well. Succeed in staying motivated and continue to reach new heights, and you’ll likely reap the best reward of all—a long, fulfilling life.