I admit I’m one of those freaky people that loves exercise and I’m often asked about my own exercise routine, so as it’s the start of the year and new year resolutions are still on your mind, I guess now would be a good time to share my own thoughts and tips.
Before I get started though, please know I am not a personal trainer so I don’t devise specific exercise regimes but that doesn’t mean I can’t get you active. I’m targeting people here that do little or no regular physical activity and need help in getting going.
I personally love to workout on my own and always in the morning (unless I go to my evening yoga class). What I do and how long for varies depending on how I feel and the time I have set aside, but it’s usually between 20-45 minutes per day for 5 or 6 days a week. Depending on where you’re at, this might sound a lot or not enough, but we’ll get to that.
I can get a bit obsessed with one type of exercise or another if I’m really enjoying it, but generally I mix up my week with two or three different routines. These might include a kettlebell routine, yoga, weight training, running, exercise bike or aerobic DVD.
So that’s a bit about me. But what I really want to focus on is YOU. Just like I keep emphasizing with food, exercise is also very individual and what might suit one person, might not work for another. That’s why I’ve created this list of tips to help you find what works for you, so that you can achieve your health goals.
1. Pick a time to suit YOU
Ask yourself what feels good. I love mornings, about an hour or so after breakfast, but if you asked my husband to workout then he’d throw a wobbly and cry in the corner as he simply can’t get motivated at that time and his body doesn’t feel ready. His time is around 11pm… just the time where I’d be throwing the wobbly!
It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, the best time is the time that you’ll actually do it!
2. Choose activities YOU enjoy
You might love team sports, I don’t. You might hate running, I love it. It’s no good doing something you hate because you won’t keep it going. It needs to be something you can learn to look forward to, not dread.
Having said that, I used to hate running. I did cross-country running for my school and hated it so much that it literally used to make me throw-up before and after a race because I was so nervous. It took until I was about 30 years old to give running another go and I came to realise that being forced to do it was a world apart from doing it on my own terms. So if you’d like to re-try something, go for it, you might be surprised.
If you don’t exercise at all and the idea fills you with dread then think outside the box a little. To get some exercise it doesn’t have to be in a traditional form.
One of my tips that works the best for people is dancing! Put on a favourite upbeat song and dance your heart out. No-one’s watching so give it your all for that few minutes. If you have young children this is a great activity to do together.
If that sounds too energetic, maybe your weight makes that uncomfortable or you have joint issues, then start with something simpler – walk around your kitchen/house while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. It doesn’t have to be fast, you know your own level, but if you’re very inactive, this is still a good way to get you active.
3. Recognise YOUR needs
I prefer to workout on my own. I am self-motivated because I enjoy the energy I get from exercise and the positive effects on my body and health, but you might prefer to have the accountability of a friend or group of people. Not everyone can get motivated on their own. With a friend or a group it’s harder to break the commitment and you can make it a social thing too, which for those of you who live in a rural area, can be a great bonus. Walking, running, Zumba, yoga, circuit training, tennis and swimming are just a few of the options that can work socially.
Another option that might work for you is to commit to an event, say a 10K walk or run, or paying up front for a class. Making such commitments is enough for some people to keep them motivated and on track.
4. The goal is to improve
This is where we nail it down. There is no right or wrong here (remember I’m targeting beginners here, not athletes).
If you currently do nothing, there’s no point in me saying you need to do 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. That’s insane as it would be a massive change to your routine and your body that you probably won’t keep up beyond a week. Not a great way to start.
The aim is to improve on what you are currently doing… that is a positive change but achievable. So, start with 1 minute per day. 1 minute! Anyone can make the time and find motivation for that. Do that for one week or even two. Then move it up to 2 minutes per day for a week or two. Then 3 minutes and so on until you achieve a time that works for you.
That might not seem much but compared to doing nothing, it’s a lot! Over a period of weeks you might build that up to 20 mins and that is a substantial workout!
Those that aren’t beginners could try starting at 5 mins per day and build that up or commit to one yoga class per week. You will all be at different starting points so don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just working on improving YOU!
5. Schedule it
But more importantly, the aim of building up gradually is to make it work as part of your routine. Your routine right now probably wouldn’t cope with a 45 minute workout so don’t set yourself up to fail. Start with small allocations of time and schedule it!
I am a big lover of keeping a schedule for everything, personal and business related. Every day that I wish to workout I allocate a time for it. This way it just becomes another thing that I do during my day without question. It changes the game plan from something I’ll do if I have time, to something that needs to be done. An amazing business mentor Marie Forleo often quotes “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real” and this is something I absolutely live by.
6. Maintain the habit
For health reasons you ideally want to have some physical activity every day but that doesn’t mean you need to do a workout every day. Gardening, walking and housework can keep you pretty active and flexible, but that’s unlikely to be enough to get you to optimum health, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
How often you properly workout really is personal and depends on your end goals, but remember, right now you are just looking to improve, not dive straight into something intense.
The important thing is to do something on all the days you’ve scheduled it. And if you wake up feeling like you really can’t do it, don’t write it off as a failed day. For example, you might have planned a 20 minute run, but just can’t face it or it’s raining… just change it. Do 20 minutes of yoga instead as it’s gentler. Or do a 10 minute or even 5 minute run instead. You are in charge here and doing a less substantial workout is still better than nothing at all.
The key point here is that you’re maintaining a routine of regular exercise. It really isn’t a big deal if you have the odd ‘off’ day, but still doing something will stop you from feeling like you’ve let yourself down. Missing the workout completely is more likely to set you on the path for writing off the whole week… you don’t need to let that happen.
7. Give yourself permission
This may sound a bit odd, but I know there are a lot of you who feel guilty about taking time out to exercise! Am I right? I get this, I really do, because I used to feel bad that my husband was off to work and I was having a love affair with a kettlebell! It took a long time for me to realise that my whole family benefits when I exercise, or more to the point, they don’t suffer!
I want to live a healthy life, free of long-term illness and ailments and I know regular exercise contributes to this. So if I don’t do it, I get grumpy, I feel bad, I feel resentful and my bad mood affects everyone else. I’ve learnt that it’s not wrong to want to look after my health. It makes me feel more confident, more positive and more productive, so no, I don’t feel guilty about devoting time to myself anymore.
So if you know you are not as active as you’d like to be, make the commitment this week to getting started. Whether you start with one class, one minute a day, a daily walk, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are improving, so be proud of yourself for taking that step and have fun doing it!
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. And let me know below, on Facebook or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), what commitment YOU are going to make this week to improve your routine.