If you’re like most people, you have a type of exercise you love and one you dislike. And, you probably choose to do the exercises you love more than the ones you don’t. This is because we tend to gravitate toward what is natural or easy to us. However, by sticking to the same activities and/or exercises, you are only working some muscle groups and potentially missing out on certain aspects of your fitness! In addition, too much of any one type of exercise will likely lead to boredom, burnout and limited positive results. Exercise variation has great physical benefits and can boost your overall well being.
Finding a starting point for incorporating new fitness routines can be difficult; it might be outside of your comfort zone or really hard at first, and both factors can be discouraging or deter you from trying it again. If you enjoy an exercise program, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Finding joy in exercise is the key for sticking with the program in the long run, and the only way to figure out what you like is through trying new things.
With a little planning and creative thinking, you can make the most of your exercise by creating a program that is challenging, targets various areas of your physical fitness and that you truly enjoy. As you read, start to think about or write down some ideas you come up with to help get you started.
Find out what’s missing
Our fitness is like a wheel made up of different components: strength, endurance, power, flexibility, balance and agility. If one area is lacking, our wheel won’t turn. Start by making a list of your strengths and areas you can improve.
One of the most common questions people in the fitness industry hear is whether strength training or cardio is better for you. Regular cardiovascular exercise moves the large muscle groups in our bodies, increasing our heart rate and maximizing oxygen in the blood. Strength training can help slow bone loss and build up our bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. While both are important components, it’s also important to focus on areas outside of strength training and cardiovascular exercise, including flexibility and balance. Flexibility and balance is associated with better cognitive performance and less anxiety. Rest and the practice of mindfulness also make up an important part of your overall well being.
Achieving long-lasting results requires a willingness to do things we typically don’t do. Ask yourself:
- What new activities do you want to try in the next few weeks?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to learn?
- Consider your short- and long-term goals. How do they fit into your exercise program?
Find out what’s missing from your current exercise program, write it down and figure out how you can add it.
Commit yourself to trying something new
Once you’ve identified an area of fitness you’d like to work on, create your plan. Next to your list of new activities or workouts you’re going to try, write down how you are going to accomplish this. Talk to a personal trainer at the gym (many gyms offer free trial sessions with a trainer). Or, attend a group yoga class to focus on balance-related poses.
Remember, it’s okay if you try something and find it isn’t right for you. When adding new activities to your exercise program, focus on only one or two things at a time, especially if you are just beginning an exercise program. Don’t start with too much – you will only burn yourself out or end up quitting.
Recruit a “Workout Buddy”
If you’re worried you won’t stick to your plan if you attempt to go at it alone, try recruiting a friend, spouse or neighbor to join you! Working out with another person can be fun, motivating and can help you stick to your goals. Sign up for small group training – these sessions are usually less expensive than one-on-one personal training sessions. If you enjoy being social, try a group fitness class. Classes are a great way to meet people with similar goals and can make the experience more fun.
Plan your recovery
This is perhaps one of the most important parts of a fitness routine, yet you don’t hear people at the gym talk about sleep, active recovery or rest. Aside from moving your body, of course, resting your body plays a huge part in your overall well being. In fact, sleep should be at the top of your recovery priority list! Lack of sleep is associated with weight gain, decreased energy and performance, fatigue, decreased alertness and productivity throughout the day and more.
The bottom line is this: You can be eating nutritiously and working out regularly, but if you aren’t getting the required amount of quality sleep, your body can’t recover properly which can lead to serious injury. Lastly, it is so important to listen to your body; it’s okay to take a day or two off for active recovery/rest. You’ll be more productive and enjoy the fitness activities more if you are well rested and full of energy.
Whatever your fitness goals, finding balance and joy in your exercise plan is the best way to ensure you are moving more, and sticking to it. Your health and well being deserve it!
We Can Help.
VITAL WorkLife EAP members have access to a wealth of information on the member website, including health and well being articles, healthy recipes, eLearning courses and more. In addition, learn about the benefits of physical activity and how to get out of your exercise rut.
If you are a member of one of our solutions, give us a call to speak with a representative; we’re available anytime, day or night.
- EAP members: call 800.383.1908
- Physician and Provider Well Being Resources members: call 877.731.3949
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To learn more, give VITAL WorkLife a call at 800.383.1908 or visit VITALWorkLife.com.