Mastering Your Exercise Routine: Tips for Long-Term Success

Mastering Your Exercise Routine: Tips for Long-Term Success - image of a bullet journal with

One day into your resolution to work out and get that beach body, and you’re beet red, breathing in painful gasps, exhausted, and now you ache for four days. Many of us have been there. This is a recipe for a heaping scoop of giving up. The health magazines never seem to tell you about that part, or how to avoid it. But it is avoidable! Here’s some tips.

Start slow. Even if it's only 2, 3, or 5 minutes at first. Five minutes of exercise that you committed to and then did is much better than the 30-60 minutes of exercise that you tried all day to convince yourself to do, but didn’t manage. And you may find that after you start your 5-minute commitment, it's easier to continue. But if you do reach that 5 minutes, and today, that’s all you can do, that’s ok. Accept that your body may have more or less to give at different times. 30 minutes a day is the goal, but it's okay if it's divided into three 10 minute sessions, or two 15 minutes sessions, and it's okay to work up to that length. If you are exercising so hard that it’s exceedingly difficult to convince yourself to exercise in the next few days because you’re sore and ultra-uncomfortable, then that level is probably too intense right now. Some people enjoy the feeling of sore muscles, it is motivating to them and kudos to them! But it’s ok to not be a fan of that right now. It may take years for your body to get to that point where it is strong enough to do that, or you may never; maybe body building and becoming a gym rat is not your thing. That’s ok, give your body the time it needs, and accept what works for you in the present moment.

If you find it difficult to find the time to put into exercising, you are not alone. However, there are some simple ways to start incorporating healthier habits into your everyday life. Small but consistent changes add up. Another key to sticking with an exercise program is taking the opportunities in your daily life to exercise. It took you two extra minutes to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in the middle or at the back of the parking lot and walk the extra distance to the store. Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way. While watching TV, do some body weight squats or stretches during commercials (watch your form to avoid injury, maybe watch some videos to refresh your memory). While you are sitting on the toilet scrolling on TicTok, lean your elbows on your knees and do some calf raises. Make these things habits that you just do automatically every time you have the opportunity.

Take one of your 10-minute breaks from work and walk around the block. Bring a coworker if you want, get to know them better. Maybe do a quick little yoga session. Walk your dog, or even your cat or lizard (weirder things have been done). Shoot some hoops at your friend's house with their driveway basketball hoop. Drive to a neighboring city and walk down Main Street, with or without company. See some of the touristy places in your own neck of the woods, that you maybe have never even been to. Whatever sounds fun to you that you can put a physical spin on, do it. All these little micro-workouts add up over the course of your day, and before you know it, you’ve done 30 minutes’ worth of exercise today, and yet, didn’t have to block out anything in your schedule!

Consistency is far more important than intensity, especially in the beginning when developing an exercise program. Raise that number slowly- improving your body’s ability to tolerate exercise is not a sprint, it's a marathon (running need not actually be included). Be patient with yourself, let your body tell you when it's ready to move to the next step. That's where many of us fail, when we tried to run a mile on our first day, get sore for 3 days, get frustrated, and give up. Jumping the gun doesn't do us any good. Give your body permission to take the time that it needs to make the necessary adjustments to your new regime before moving to harder stages. Who knows, you may find a marathon runner, extreme sports athlete, or champion rock climber hiding within you!

If you're not a fan of working out at a gym, there are so many free YouTube video series for all kinds of different exercise for all levels of expertise and intensity levels. Do you like to dance? How about Zumba or jazzercise? Maybe give foam rolling or yoga a try if you have tight muscles. Use your imagination; the options are truly endless. Perhaps meander over to the diet side of health, which also has huge implications for general health and wellbeing, which is another library worth of articles. Know that the road to wellness is a process, not an event, and we will always be learning and trying new ways to be healthier and happier.

Courtney Franklin, RN

Courtney has been a Registered nurse with a Bachelor's degree since 2016. She has spent most of her time in nursing in the realm of Rheumatology. She believes strongly in the power of individuals and groups to be forces for good in the lives of others, and endeavors to assist in good causes of all kinds in whatever ways she can, particularly as a freelance writer. She enjoys her sweet husband, her three dogs, and her fantasy books, which she never grew out of and probably never will.

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