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Exercise has so many health benefits. It can help with weight maintenance, enhance energy and mood, reduce stress, improve memory, boost endorphins, reduce pain, increase libido, and inspire creativity. It is also one of the best ways to preserve brain health and function. However, a lot of us are not exercising enough. People of normal weight only exercise for 2 minutes per day, while obese women roughly exercise a mere 11 seconds per day.
1. Reward yourself.
If exercise has so many health benefits, why it is so hard for people to maintain a routine on a regular basis? Research suggests that it’s the lack of immediately visible results. So one easy way to make sure you exercise is by rewarding yourself immediately afterwards, such as watching an episode of your favorite TV show.
2. Don’t make your exercise routine too difficult.
Another deterrent to maintaining an exercise routine is starting one that is too difficult for your fitness level. Although it’s good to challenge yourself, if you’re just starting out, it’s easy to become discouraged by fatigue and aching muscles. Also, the “high” associated with exercise is delayed by about 30 minutes when you exercise above your “respiratory threshold” or the point where it becomes difficult to hold a conversation. So take it easy!
3. Choose activity that you enjoy.
I personally am motivated when I go to the gym and see other people sweating or working out hard. However, there are other people who hate working out at the gym. But you don’t have to! If you enjoy being outside, ride a bike or go hiking. If you love to dance, turn up the music and let loose! If you’re into team sports, join a league.
4. Be prepared for obstacles.
Whether it’s being too tired or not having enough time, identify obstacles to exercise and come up with solutions to them. For some people, putting on gym clothes and promising themselves to exercise for 10 minutes before giving up is the solution. Once they hit 10 minutes, they find that they’re actually enjoying what they’re doing and that they’re halfway through their workout.
5. Be accountable.
Find a workout buddy so that you guys will motivate each other to show up. Post on your Facebook page the progress you’ve made, such as checking in at your gym or posting the number of steps you took that day on your pedometer.
6. Time exercise properly.
For some people, exercising in the morning is the best because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. They get energized. They get it done and can’t make any excuses to delay it throughout the day. But listen to your body and exercise when you have the most energy. If that’s in the afternoon, do it then.
7. Vary your workouts.
Make sure you vary your workout so you are less prone to injury and less likely to become bored. Cardio sessions that are too long can actually be detrimental to your health. Running for an hour puts an enormous amount of stress on your heart. It can create a significant amount of oxidative stress, which causes inflammation and damage to your heart tissues. Instead, focus on HIIT. Since HIIT only takes 20 minutes per session and you should only do 2 to 3 sessions per week, it frees up your time to incorporate other types of exercise, such as weight lifting, core exercises, stretching, yoga, etc.
8. Make sure you focus on proper recovery.
Making sure you rest and sleep an adequate amount to prevent injury is crucial. Over-exercising can also be counterproductive by increasing your cortisol levels, which actually promotes fat storage.