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Oct 20

How to Start Exercising Again (And Stick With It!) – Better Living

When life gets hectic, exercise is usually one of the first things to fall to the sidelines. And Im no stranger to the fact that the longer you put it off, the more frustrating it can be to get back in the groove.

But, if at this very moment youre stressed, your energy stinks, your favorite jeans dont fit quite as comfortably as you remember, and you get winded halfway up a flight of stairs, it may be time to lace up those sneakers and get back in shape.

Theres nothing wrong with wanting to tone up and drop some unwanted pounds.

But making exercise and living an active lifestyle can do so many other incredible things for your body and health that many of us take for granted.

You should start exercising again because

The American Heart Associations journal Circulation, reports that upwards of 250,000 deaths in the United States each year are associated with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity. [1]

And even a small amount of exercise can provide benefits.

A 2020 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found the lifespans of sedentary people significantly improved after doing just 11 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous activity. [2]

If you stick with an exercise and strength training program, and youre eating enough protein, your body will respond by building more muscle to adapt.

More muscle means youll get stronger and reduce the risk of injury, but it will also help support your joints, improve bone density, and boost immunity. [3, 4, 5]

Increasing muscle also raises your bodys metabolic rate, encouraging it to burn more fat. [6, 7]

Fit Fact: Per pound, muscle burns 7 to 10 calories daily while fat burns only two to three. So, try to add more muscle with strength training!

Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is also a risk factor for heart disease. [8]

Several studies have also shown that exercising regularly can improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure. [ 9, 10, 11]

But it also stimulates nitric oxide in the body, which promotes healthy blood pressure by relaxing and expanding blood vessels, allowing blood to flow freely while delivering oxygen and nutrients to our cells. This means your heart doesnt have to work as hard. [12]

Several studies have shown that exercise can help ease anxiety and depression while lowering stress hormones like cortisol that can trigger weight gain. [13, 14]

Research has also shown that exercise can improve sleep quality while also improving focus, productivity, self-confidence, and body image. [15, 16 ]

Exercise increases the health of your body, but it can also improve your sense of well-being, putting more pep in your step every day.

You cant put a day and time on when youll be fit. It entirely depends on your body, including factors like your age, gender, fitness level, and how often you work out.

If you exercise regularly, you should definitely notice positive changes within 2 to 4 weeks. Stick with it until the 3 to 4-month mark, and youll see and feel significant positive changes to your health, fitness, and body. [17]

Its important to understand that transforming your body takes time, and it doesnt happen overnight. The fitness models and influencers you see on social media take years to build their bodies. Many even use photo filters.

While exercising may be difficult at first, you will improve. And remember, you cant out-train a poor diet.

Professional health organizations recommend exercising 150300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 300 minutes to assist with weight loss and to reap the most health benefits. [18]

Theres no reason to do a combination of both. Besides doing cardio like walking, jogging, or cycling, aim to do strength training at least two times per week.

Be sure to add mobility and flexibility movements to help with exercise recovery.

Use these simple tricks to kick excuses to the curb and finally get fit.

After years of inactivity, I thought I had little time to exercise. But once I analyzed what I was and wasnt doing, I realized it was poor time management all along.

The demands of school, work, and family can leave us little time for ourselves. But take a day or two and keep track of yourself to see if you can find at least 10 or more extra wasted minutes. The time spent on social media or shopping online can be used to exercise instead.

If time isnt your issue, maybe youre discouraged because you didnt see results from a previous workout program, or its okay to admit, maybe you just dont like to exercise.

Keep reading because we have more tips to help you get over the exercise slump.

If injury or illness has kept you from being active, consult with a doctor or medical professional before starting any exercise program.

Understanding why you want to get in shape will help motivate you to exercise on those days when your fitness enthusiasm wanes and the excuses roll in.

To get started, grab a notebook, fitness journal, or app on your phone and write out why you want to get in shape.

Healthy whys might look like this:

Your answers should not be based on societal expectations, pressure from family or friends, or what youre seeing on social media.

Wanting to look better fuels many of us to get in shape, but it doesnt always motivate us to stick with our fitness goals in the long term.

To further motivate you, try to connect your why to an emotion.

For example:


The answers should be personal to you and what you want to achieve. Look back at your answer anytime you want to skip a workout or quit to help motivate you to push through.

Youve figured out why you want to get in shape. Next, lay out some simple fitness goals you can achieve within a reasonable time frame.

Examples of unrealistic and unhealthy fitness goals:

A slow and steady approach to your health and fitness goals always wins.

Examples of realistic fitness goals:

Larger goals are fine too. But break them down into small actionable steps so you can see what steps you need to take to achieve them and how much time it will take.

And you may progress faster than expected.

What would this look like? Say you want to lose 20 pounds. Make that the long-term goal and plan out a strategy to lose 1.5 pounds a week for the next 4 months.

Always add your workouts to your calendar, just as you would appointments or meetings. This will help you carve out those dedicated exercise blocks of time, even when youre busy during the week.

Improving your fitness levels 100% requires staying consistent and a schedule can help you stay on track.

Give yourself a big check or star every time you complete a workout so you can look back on your accomplishments. Then, for every 10 workouts accomplished, reward yourself with something small, like a fresh addition to your workout wardrobe or a piece of that artisan chocolate youve been eyeing.

I enjoy working out later in the day. But if you dont have time in the afternoons or evenings, try waking up a little earlier to get in a half-hour walk or short strength training session to check it off your list first thing in the morning.

Some studies show that the morning is best for burning fat, but exercise performance may be better later in the day, which can help build strength and increase endurance. A more recent study has revealed evidence that the best time to exercise may be different for men and women. [19]

Ultimately, the best time to work out is when you make the time.

And whether you prefer the gym, the comfort of your own home, or the great outdoors, it doesnt matter as long as you get moving.

Youre excited to get back in shape, I get it. But going beast mode after loving life on the couch for the last several months isnt the best idea. As a beginner, its best to start slowly and then ramp up the activity.

If you do too much activity too quickly after being sedentary, that initial DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can be a bit much and may discourage you from continuing.

Instead, stick with beginner-friendly workouts and then increase difficulty after a few weeks. Fitness magazines are great resources to learn from and you can check out tons of free beginner exercise videos on YouTube.

If youre not sure where to start or what exercises you should do for your fitness level, consult with a fitness coach for advice on what would be appropriate.

Below Ill tell you why getting a fitness coach through an app like Future is a game-changer that can make getting in shape and exercising again stress-free.

If you really want to get in shape, you have to do workouts that are challenging, but you also have to be consistent. Throwing a workout once every couple of weeks wont cut it.

So if cardio on the treadmill sound less than stellar, skip it and get yourself moving in a way you enjoy so youll stay motivated to keep going.

Start walking at the beach or park. Take hikes, cycle, rock climb, swim, surf, kayak, roller skate, ice-skate or ski. Take a yoga, pilates, kickboxing, or dance fitness class. If youre competitive, try joining a local sports league or club. If youre into gaming, fire up a fitness game like Just Dance or Fitness Boxing.

Easy to do anytime, low-impact, and free walking can improve bone strength, build muscular endurance, reduce stress hormones, improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories. [20]

And studies continue to show walking consistently is super effective for gradual and sustained fat loss. [ 21]

A recent study by the National Institutes of Healthfollowed over 6,000 patients for four years. They found that the magic number to prevent weight gain was walking at least 8,600 steps. [22]

Aim for 7000-10,000 steps per day or walk briskly for 30 minutes five times a week. To get the most benefits, youll want to get your heart rate up exerting yourself at a moderate intensity. You should be slightly breathless but still be able to hold a conversation.

To help keep track of your steps get a simple pedometer or download a step-tracking app on your phone. The only issue with a phone app is that you will have to carry your phone at all times.

Consider getting a fitness watch and activity tracker. Features vary from model to model. They all track your steps, but most will also track your heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned, time standing, and minutes spent exercising.

Some even have built-in training and recovery programs that allow you to track your fitness goals as well.

Activity trackers on Amazon start around $40 on the low end. The Amazon Halo is currently $79.99 while fitness watches popular from brands like Amazfit, Samsung Galaxy, FitBit and Apple Watch will be a bit of an investment running you a couple hundred and up.

But if youre serious about making exercise a part of your lifestyle these watches can be an invaluable motivational tool that can help you keep track of your progress. I have one and its definitely worth it.

Once youre feeling a little more confident, start adding in strength and resistance training.

Strength training can help balance sugar, improve sleep quality and build bone density, but it also helps you build muscle and increase your metabolism. And the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn.

For strength training, you can use weights like dumbbells and kettlebells and machines at the gym.

If youre working out at home and have little space, resistance bands are inexpensive, great for building strength, and can be tucked in a drawer.

Resistance and strength training exercises include:

When using weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, or machines, start with a lighter weight amount, where you can complete one set of 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. It should be challenging, but not straining or painful. By the end of the set, feel ready for a break.

Then rest for 30- 60 seconds between exercises.

You can start with one set the first and second week, eventually building up to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Aim to incorporate strength training at least twice a week, training different muscle groups on different days. And be sure to include rest days in between training sessions.

If you dont enjoy working with weights, try taking up pilates or yoga, which both use bodyweight exercises and poses to increase strength and balance.

Think you need a long block of time in to get the benefits of exercise? Not true.

Studies show that mini-workouts throughout the day can be just as effective as longer workouts. [23]

Mini workouts:

Exercising in 10-minute blocks is also a great way to ease your body and mind back into a routine.

On days when youre not in the mood to work out and can use a little extra motivation, pop in those earbuds and turn on some high-energy tunes to get you moving. It can make all the difference.

Studies show that when you play high-energy music with faster beats (that you enjoy), youll exercise harder and longer without feeling like youve put in any extra effort. [24]

It totally works for me!

As an alternative to music, listen to an audiobook or to an episode of your favorite podcast on days when wanting something a little different.

See more here:
How to Start Exercising Again (And Stick With It!) - Better Living

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