If you’ve never experienced the joy of an exercise routine you love and, therefore, do consistently… You are missing out. No, really, here are some of the perks of consistent exercise:
- Exercise reduces cortisol, your body’s stress hormone! If you’ve got a stressful job, then exercise is your FRIEND.
- Exercise is good for your body AND your brain. Studies show that exercise generates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. This is a protein that encourages the maintenance and growth of new neurons and synapses in your brain! That means improved memory, learning, and concentration. And THAT means you’ll perform better at work… So basically what I’m saying here is that exercise is going to get you that promotion you’ve been after!
- Exercise helps prevent chronic disease by lowering inflammation, improving cardiac health, and supporting healthy hormone levels. That’s big stuff.
- Exercise supports your body’s detoxification mechanisms via your sweat, lymphatic flow, and also stimulating your colon.
- Weight-bearing exercise like hiking, Zumba, tennis, and jogging has been shown to increase bone density, which helps to prevent osteoporosis.
- Increasing your lean body mass or muscle mass increases your metabolic rate.
- Exercise supports embodiment– connecting to your body, practicing awareness of the way it feels, and building that mind-body connection.
Pretty amazing, huh? And perhaps you’ve noticed that we’ve already used the word “consistent” twice here. Yeah, unfortunately, most of these rewards can only be achieved with a long-term, steady commitment to physical activity, AKA the opposite of the “all or nothing” approach to health that we hear about so often from followers and incoming clients.
If that rings true for you too, don’t worry! This post is for you if you know you should be exercising but you just haven’t quite found your footing yet. Here’s Our Guide to Crafting an Exercise Routine:
1. Long-term benefit
Look at that list above. Select 1-2 exercise perks that really speak to you. As someone with a family history of Alzheimer’s, I’m particularly motivated by the emerging research that shows improved cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients who exercise. [source]
If you’ve only ever exercised to achieve weight loss or a “hot bod” and you’ve seen limited success in your consistency, maybe it’s time to dig deeper and connect with a “why” for exercise that really resonates.
2. Short-term benefit
Ok, long-term benefits are amazing and I know my future 70-year-old self will thank me… But it’s hard to keep her in mind when my alarm clock goes off at 6am for an early morning workout. And, I know from lots of trial and error that the promise of burned calories also doesn’t motivate me to get out of bed.
Do you know what does though? The *instant* stress relief I get from exercise. Or the way I sleep like a freaking baby when I’m committed to my exercise routine. So what are your short-term, instant gratification benefits?
3. Activity you love
Now that you know why you’re going to exercise today and forever after that, it’s time to spend some time considering what you’ll actually be doing. If you’ve never enjoyed exercise, chances are you just haven’t found the modality you love yet.
Remember, those long- and short-term benefits you’re after will come with just about any form of consistent activity. And to achieve consistency, you need to find something you love or at least like. Otherwise you’re going to stay stuck on this “all or nothing” hamster wheel of health.
So as you go through this part of the exercise, let go of external expectations around exercise. If you hate running, don’t sign up for a half marathon because that’s how your sister-in-law lost all her weight. If group classes intimidate you, try some solo exercise sessions! Practice tuning into your internal wisdom so you can create an exercise routine that works just for you.
Here are some considerations to make:
- Do you prefer to work out indoor or outdoor?
- Would you like to go solo, or will a class environment motivate you and hold you accountable?
- Do you like the comfort of a familiar gym, or would something like ClassPass help you achieve the variety you crave?
We’ve created this workbook to help you work through all these questions and commit to trying out at least three different activities to help you find your thang. You can download that here.
4. Calendar it out
At the beginning of each week, you’re going to decide how many exercise and/or movement sessions you can commit to. If you’re starting from ground zero, do yourself a favor and don’t jump to 5 sessions a week. Give yourself the chance to succeed by building in a ramp up plan.
Don’t be the girl who goes so hard in the gym the first week back that she ends up back on the couch for three weeks.
So once you decide how many sessions per week, you’re going to COMMIT. BY. CALENDAR. Take your paper planner or Google Cal and block that time out! Commit to these activities and yourself by making space in your calendar for it. This is a chance for you to make a promise to yourself, keep it, and get allllllllllll of the self-confidence that comes from that simple act, so don’t miss out on this opportunity!
5. Back up plan
I know I literally just talked about keeping promises to yourself but… Life happens, y’all. You’re going to plan a nice run on the lake and it’s going to pour down rain. You’re going to have a yoga class booked and your boss is going to schedule a last minute meeting.
Life is going to happen but that does not mean you’re going to give up on your commitments to yourself.
No, you’re going to be flexible with a back up plan. Great back up plan activities include: at home yoga, walk around the neighborhood, or an AM/PM stretch routine. Your back up may not be as intense as what you originally had planned, but at this point we’re simply working on creating the habit of movement and building on the compound effect of promises made to move.
Whew! That’s the guide, y’all. And I wish reading this post were enough, but it’s not. If you want to do more than just gather information and inspiration, download this workbook to help you work through your routine, and then put those plans into action!