We all know we should do it, so why does it seem so hard sometimes to get our bodies moving? If you are lacking motivation and can’t seem to drag yourself to the gym, you’re not alone. When you look at fitness as a chore to check off your to-do list, it can often feel like it’s not really worth the effort. Here’s some good news: we’ve got advice to help you create a fitness plan you’ll actually enjoy and want to maintain!
First, know your “why.” What are your fitness goals? Are you trying to lose weight? Training for a race? Do you feel you need to exercise to improve your health or self-esteem? Is your goal to build muscle or gain strength? Knowing why you want to be active can help you stick to a fitness routine. Once you know your overall goal, break it into small, manageable steps. Make your goals “SMART”: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
Take stock of your current fitness level. When you know where you started, it will be easier to track how far you’ve come! Consider keeping track of your heart rate before and after walking a mile, the length of time it takes you to walk a mile, how many pushups you can complete, how far you can reach forward when you are sitting on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you, your waist measurement and your BMI. Write all of these things down, and then measure them again at intervals as you work towards your goals. Having more than one factor by which to gauge your progress can help encourage you to keep going.
Think about activities you find fun. If your workout feels like drudgery, you’re probably not going to stick to it. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to be active, and you are sure to find a few that you actually like to do. Running is great, but so are hiking, rollerblading, boxing, biking, dancing and swimming. Make time for activities you find pleasant and then incorporate movement into your everyday life as well.
Know the four essential elements. When you’re creating a fitness program, you’ll want to keep it balanced, with at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, along with strength training at least twice a week. Beyond that, there are four essential elements of a good fitness plan.
- Cardio exercise, which raises your heart rate and breathing, helps improve the function of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. To be effective, cardio should work the large muscle groups of your legs and trunk hard enough to challenge your heart and lungs.
- Strengthening activities help build muscle as well as improving muscular strength and endurance and increasing metabolism. You can do strength training with weights, machines, resistance bands or just your own body weight. Working more than one muscle group at a time is the most effective way to improve strength.
- Practices that improve flexibility and mobility will help your muscles and joints. Yoga is a perfect example of this kind of movement, which helps improve your range of motion and balance while reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation.
- Recovery is just as important as the other aspects of your fitness plan. Muscles that have just been used in strength or training exercises need time to heal and repair so that they can become stronger. This doesn’t mean you should take a full day off after a workout, though. Just bring the exertion level down to low-intensity activities that allow you to easily talk while you’re doing them.
Be realistic about your schedule. First, realize that you are not going to be able to jump into a strenuous regime immediately if you haven’t been exercising. You will need to ease into it and progress at a pace that works best for you. Next, recognize that the plan that is a great fit for someone else may not be for you. When do you prefer to work out? Pay attention to the time of day when you have the most energy and plan your routine around that time. Decide how many days each week you want to be active, and make sure the scheduled time you intend will realistically fit in with the rest of your activities.
Track your progress. Write down your goals in the beginning and write down your progress as you continue your workouts. It can be helpful to take your personal fitness assessment again six weeks after you have started, and then again every few months. Pay attention to how you are progressing and analyze whether you need to modify your routine to make it more effective.
At the Wellbridge Family of Athletic Clubs, we offer world-class training that keeps up to date with the latest in health and wellness. At our clubs, you’ll be greeted by our friendly team before you’re challenged and motivated by top-notch instructors in our fitness classes. You’ll make new friends because you belong here. Join today or contact us to learn more.