How to Introduce Exercise Into Your Weekly Schedule
by Delilah Farrell
We live in an era where responsibility and commitment overwhelm, in which it’s easy to neglect things essential to our well-being, such as exercise. While physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve coordination, cognitive function, and promote a healthy weight, we often find the idea of starting an exercise routine to be daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be. If done right, you can introduce exercise into your routine in a way that is both realistic and sustainable.
Schedule your Workouts
The easiest way to incorporate exercise into your week is to make your workout one of your pre-planned commitments. Just as you make time for those late-afternoon work meetings or your neighbor’s soccer game, consider your workouts a non-negotiable part of your week. Chris Evert, Grand Slam tennis champion, attests that “the best way to make time for exercise is to have a written plan”. Enter your workout time in your computer or phone calendar, so it shows up daily and you’re less likely to schedule something over that time. Additionally, you may want to consider when you schedule your workouts for. Experts recommend morning workouts for their physical and cognitive benefits – AM exercise promotes better decision-making and
productivity throughout the day.
Accountability is a key determinant of success in any endeavor; exercise included. Whether it’s a friend, significant other, or personal trainer, find someone who is in your corner and wants to see you achieve your goals. Knowing someone is relying on you to meet your fitness commitments, you will be less likely to back out and disappoint them. Furthermore, having an
accountability partner can be an opportunity to introduce fun partner workouts and drive progress through fun incentives. You may even serve as each other’s accountability partners. Whoever you may choose, make sure they are aware of your exercise schedule and fitness goals, so they can keep you on track when you deviate from routine.
Financial commitment, oftentimes, drives personal commitment. You’re more likely to stick with
a gym or fitness routine when you’ve invested in it monetarily. After all, what’s driving you to seek out free workout videos on YouTube? Join a gym – within budget, of course- or fitness studio that offers instructor-led classes. If indoor fitness isn’t your thing, you may invest in some new workout gear (running shoes, FitBit, Lululemon Shorts) to boost your motivation and enhance performance. You may also decide to splurge on a personal trainer who can help you meet your fitness goals, who will also serve as your accountability buddy.
The definition of exercise does not necessarily have to mean regimented workouts, Pilates classes, or boot camp. Especially if you are starting out, you may find it effective to incorporate physical activity into everyday tasks. The concept is simple – take the stairs, finish up some gardening, or take an extra-long walk with the dog. Add movement to housework; you can emphasize different muscle groups when vacuuming, doing laundry, or washing dishes, for example. If you work at the office, it’s easy to forget that you can still “move” even when you are seated. There are some stretches you can do from your desk which have even been shown to improve productivity. Light-intensity walking breaks, even 5-10 minutes every few hours, can be good for
you physically and mentally. These “brain breaks” are being implemented in Australian schools to fight the global epidemic of too much sitting, and have been shown to boost memory and executive function. Especially if the idea of exercising several times a day seems overwhelming to you, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to mean five sweaty gym sessions.
Make it Fun
Some people do enjoy lifting weights or treadmill running, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, there are a plethora of alternatives. The key to sustaining your workout regimen has less to do with motivation and more to do with enjoyment. If you find enjoyment in something, you will be inherently motivated to keep doing it. Take weekend hikes, join a volleyball league, play tennis with neighbors. Variation is the key to enjoyment, so plan to include different activities so you don’t get stuck in an exercise rut. Blend low-impact with high-intensity, cardio with strength. Emphasize different muscle groups, and allow time for recovery. Slow and steady wins the race, so remember that a consistent routine is something you gradually achieve. With great patience and even greater persistence, understand that finding the right “routine” for you may take trial and error – but when it becomes effortless, you’ll know it’s the right one.
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