It’s New Year’s resolution time! With exercise being at the top of most people’s list, this exercise tips excerpt from my LifeMap book will help you get started. We all know that healthy exercise habits can go a long way to making a lasting impact on our health but where do we start and how do we keep it up? Let’s not make it complicated. Start with something you enjoy.
Like many, my exercise journey began on a bicycle. It was the first time I had real freedom, and I enjoyed it immensely. I had acres and acres of orange groves to explore and back country roads that only saw a car every few minutes or so. My friends and I would spend hours in the summer riding anywhere and everywhere, making ramps, riding in ditches, and attaching cards to the spokes of our tires and pretending that we were riding motorcycles.
These were amazing times — and healthy times, too. We didn’t realize it then, but we were having a blast exercising, playing sports, and wearing ourselves out. I’m sure our parents didn’t mind having a tired child come home from all that play! This is the type of exercise I continue to do today and encourage you to partake in, too.
Find Something You Enjoy
Many people dread going to the gym, but they would love to go for an early morning walk with a friend, play a sport, or hit some golf balls. People want exercise to be enjoyable. As you work on this part of your LifeMap, start with exercises and activities that you truly enjoy. Do fun stuff. Take a hike, ride a bike, skip rope, shoot hoops, play golf, throw a frisbee — anything you enjoy.
The health benefits will go far beyond just your heart to your head and your soul. It’s human nature to want to get better at the things we enjoy. Find something physical that will motivate you to keep doing and improving.
Right now, I enjoy playing racquetball. I wake up at 5:45 a.m. and hear the familiar voices of “Mike and Mike in the Morning” coming from my alarm clock. It’s a soft wake-up that gets me thinking about activity immediately. I roll out of bed and head to the kitchen for a quick bite.
My gym bag and work bag are already packed and sitting by the front door. I pack everything the night before and lay out my workout clothes, too. This way, I don’t even get dressed in the bedroom and avoid waking up my wife and kids. After a quick breakfast, I hop in the truck and get to my racquetball game by 6:30 a.m.
I spend 60 to 90 minutes running around and getting a great workout. For me, this is a lot of fun and keeps me going to the gym. It also motivates me to lift weights or stay active on the days I’m not playing. And there’s built-in accountability because my friends are expecting me to show up. They had to get up by 6 a.m., too!
“The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy.”
– Kenneth H. Cooper
By choosing something I enjoy and preparing ahead of time for it, I am much more likely to follow-through on the activity. Preparing for the workout the night before and having a friend waiting for my at the gym creates great accountability. For me, this is hugely important. Even though I am a personal trainer, finding motivation to get to the gym can be a bit challenging at times.
It is important to take the time now to identify the things that most frequently prevent you from exercising. The extra effort and time is worth it for your health. Barriers like time, money, and energy are typically overcome with a little creativity, motivation, and accountability. Let’s now move to some basic tips for consistent exercise.
Tip 1: Exercise for 30 minutes a day.
With 30 minutes of exercise a day being such a reasonable amount of time to be moving, there are no limits to how you can accomplish this. You can go for a walk, vacuum the house, lift some weights, ride a bike, play a sport, hike — the list is endless. Forcing yourself to be active will only work for so long; it has to be fun and needs to involve other people at least some of the time. The key is to nd a way to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.
If you’re like me, this will be challenging on certain days and easy on others. The easy part about this is that you don’t have to complete your 30 minutes’ worth of activity all at once. You can take a ve-minute walk at work, do a set of squats and pushups at another time, walk to lunch, etc.
Of course, I love to play sports, lift weights, or ride my bike, but I can’t always do that. My favorite way to squeeze in 30 minutes is to chase my girls around the house or dance with them. This is a great way for me to connect with them, get them nice and tired, and burn some calories.
In what ways can you squeeze in 30 minutes of activity? For more tips and articles on exercise please check out 10 Exercise Ideas to Start the New Year Strong or This is how to Design a Great Workout.
Tip 2: Make a commitment and get into a routine.
Most people get up, hop in the shower, get dressed, grab some coffee (that they habitually set up the night before), eat some breakfast, check their phones, and brush their teeth. Then, they drive to work, check their email, and peek at Facebook (or maybe the other way around). Our lives and days are filled with habits and routine. The healthiest among us have made exercise habitual, turning exercise into a routine just like brushing our teeth. This level of commitment is key for long-term health and happiness.
When you set your LifeMap goals in this Critical Area of your life, be sure to start simple, especially if you are just beginning to address this area. I’ve heard way too many people start an exercise plan by making a commitment to intense weight lifting workouts for 90 days or every day or some other unrealistic plan. Doing intense exercise everyday or for 90 days in a row is a great goal, but hardly sustainable. When you’re thinking about your exercise commitments, start with simple goals and think long-term, eventually moving to a pattern of higher intensity.
When you make your exercise commitment make sure it is simple, enjoyable, and beneficial. A great starting point is to keep a pattern of 30-minutes per day, as mentioned in Tip 1. You can always add more challenging goals as boosts to your health and fitness later. Beginning with a simple and fun LifeMap exercise plan is motivating and will help ensure long-term success.
What is your exercise commitment? Make that commitment, and stick with it. The routine should fit you — something that helps you to get moving. Stay motivated by doing things like signing up for a class or finding a friend to exercise with. These are few of many ways to stay motivated and accountable to your exercise plan.
“If something stands between you and your success, move it. Never be denied.”
– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Tip 3: Hold yourself accountable.
Create some accountability for yourself when it comes to exercise and health. There are many ways for people to be held accountable. Here are 11 ways you can create accountability:
- Tell your doctor your exercise plans and get regular checkups.
- Tell people. I tell my wife, a friend, or a co-worker. It doesn’t matter who; I just need to tell someone that I’m going to work out. One of them usually asks how my workout was, and when I have to tell them I didn’t do it, it hurts a little.
- Meet someone at the gym. This one is obvious. If someone else is expecting you to show up, it’s a lot harder to flake on your workout.
- Join a sports team. You’ll have at least a few people making sure you show up.
- Put it on your calendar, and set up notifications for the day before, the day of, and right before. It’s annoying, but you can’t say that you forgot.
- Put it on your to-do list. I use Wunderlist, and if you’re like me, it feels great to check the workout off my list. In fact, if it’s not on there, I’ll add it and then check it off! It feels so good! Some of you know what I’m talking about.
- Set goals. If you have goals and track them, it’s a lot easier to follow through.
- Find a trainer who motivates you to show up and pushes you to get better.
- Reward yourself. Go to a movie because you worked out three times a week for three weeks. Buy some new workout clothes. Or pick some other sort of a reward that will encourage you to exercise regularly.
- Buy new workout gear. You’ll want to use it and show it off.
- Consider the impact of poor health. What would happen to your family if your health fell apart because you didn’t create a few simple habits?
These aren’t in any particular order or level of priority. Pick a couple or make up your own so you can get into the habit of exercising. Share your exercise tips for the New Year with us on Facebook.com/thislifemap or comment below on your New Year’s resolution.
If you enjoyed exercise tips and this book excerpt, you can learn more about LifeMap – Building a Future When You’re Lost In The Present on my book page or check it out on Amazon.