It can be hard just to get through the day sometimes; after eight grueling work hours, the last thing you feel like doing is hitting the gym. But we’re looking at it all wrong; exercise need not be a chore. With the right attitude, and the right exercises, exercise can be a reward that you look forward to, and a vital part of your self-care routine. Treat yourself by giving yourself permission to go play.
How Is Exercise Part Of Self-Care?
At its core, self-care is all about taking care of number one and promoting mind-body unification so that you are healthier, happier, and more resilient. A good diet, regular sleep schedule, and physical activity are important to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Neglect one area and the others all suffer. Regular physical exercise promotes stronger bones and muscles, better immune response and acts to regulate stress hormones like cortisol in the bloodstream. It can be as effective at fighting depression as a mild antidepressant, and the endorphins it produces are the body’s own natural pain relievers and mood elevators.
How To Make Exercise Fun
When you were a child, you got plenty of exercise – riding a bike, jumping rope and swinging on a jungle gym. As adults, we sometimes forget how much fun it can be to move our bodies. In order to stick to a fitness regimen, you have to enjoy doing it. Many people take up yoga for its physical fitness benefits, but stick around for the meditation and greater spirituality they experience. And if you want to continue practicing meditation outside of yoga, consider setting up a meditation space in your very own home. All you need is a quiet area, some calming decorations, and some scented candles, if that’s your thing.
Just living in an environment with plentiful trees and wilderness actually extends your lifespan. Do you enjoy dancing? Enroll in a class with friends. Not a big fan of sweating? How about swimming? It gives you a full body workout and cardiovascular exercise that’s low impact and refreshing.
Make It Work For Your Schedule
If you’re having difficulty fitting in a full 30-minute workout session each day, you’re not alone. Many people struggle – especially as our daily schedules fill up more and more. And remember, you don’t have to work out for 30 minutes continuously – you can break it up into smaller increments. While it’s true that the Centers For Disease Control recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise, this is just as effective if taken in 10-minute doses three times a day, five days a week. In fact, for many people, interval training is more effective than a nonstop workout over prolonged periods of time. Evolutionarily speaking, we are designed to perform intense activity in short bursts throughout the day, with cooling off periods in between. We were meant to outrun the tiger and then grab a nap. If you still struggle to find time, or find that you use lack of time as an excuse, then pencil in a workout in your calendar. Think of it as an appointment that you just can’t miss. Take advantage of unexpected periods of free time by keeping an extra set of workout clothes and shoes in your car.
Mix It Up
Almost no one enjoys doing the same thing over and over, every day, for infinity. To make the most of your exercise time, vary your routine with different exercises and experiences. Go hiking one day, take a dance class the next. Do 10 minutes of weight lifting in the morning, and go for a run in the afternoon, followed by a swim at night. If you’re always doing different things, you’ll work on more areas of the body, and you’ll be able to maintain interest in what you are doing. By engaging in multiple sports and exercises, you’ll prevent overworking single areas, and you may even be able to avoid performance plateaus.
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? How many hours do you log in front of the television? Rather than try to pry yourself away, why not incorporate technology into your workout routine? There are plenty of fitness apps you can download on your phone for on-the-go exercises, support, and motivation. Many of them are equipped with food trackers and healthy recipe ideas, making them a one-stop shop for fitness. If watching TV is something you enjoy, chances are you can watch some of your favorite shows at the gym on a mounted television, or streamed right from your phone. You can even do a workout routine in your home while you catch up on shows.
Work Out With Others
We tend to be social creatures, and working out is no different. It can get lonely going to the gym alone or going solo on you run, so include others? It can be family and friends, or in a class with people you’ve never met before. Working out alongside others is a great way to foster healthy competition and have your own personal cheerleader to motivate you when you get stuck in a rut. Plus, there are plenty of partner exercises you can try, which gives you a chance to switch up your typical routine. If you don’t have a friend ready to take on the fitness challenge with you, find a cool class such as tai chi, kickboxing, or water aerobics. You’ll make a friend or two, which could lead to further fitness fun outside the classroom.
Maintaining our physical fitness is part of taking good care of ourselves and prioritizing our own well-being. You want to be the best you can, physically and mentally. A healthy lifestyle must incorporate all aspects of self-care, including physical fitness. Making your exercise routine more fun will help ensure you stay with it. You’ll enjoy greater health and a happier frame of mind if your body is getting what it needs in terms of rest, fuel and movement.