Straight into it:
The most effective way to become more active is by slowing increasing your level of activity over time. The biggest problem that people have when it comes to making resolutions about being more active is that they commit to something that is too drastic of a change from their daily routines. We’re all too familiar with the typical failed exercise routine, that goes something like this:
Day 1: New exercise routine. Yay! Wow, today was hard. I feel good though! It’s been a while since I last worked out. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Day 2: I feel sore. Maybe I should skip today. No, it’s only day 2. I can’t skip yet! Alright, I’ll do it.
Day 3: Oh my god. Everything hurts. I definitely am taking the day off today. It’s, okay, I’ll get back on it tomorrow.
Day 4: I’m tired. Maybe I should just go home. No! I need to stick to this new routine. I want to get in a better shape, and I know that I need to work out in order to do it. I know, I’ll reward myself with my favorite food if I can complete today’s workout. Pasta’s healthy, right?
Day 5: Ugh. Finally, it’s Friday. Then I get to rest all weekend. Okay, I’ll do a workout today, but I’m going to do a shorter one. I’m still really sore.
Day 6: Saturday is rest day. I’m definitely working out today. Besides, it wouldn’t do any good. I’m going to be drinking and eating all day anyways.
Day 7: Oh god. Hungover. Definitely no exercise today.
Day 8: Okay, time to get started! Oh wait, I didn’t do my grocery shopping this weekend. Plus, I’m really slammed at work. I guess I’ll just take today off.
Day 9: Should I work out today? I don’t even notice a difference. You know what? I’m just going to skip today. I’ll just take the stairs instead of the elevator. I know it’s only 2 floors, but at least it’s something.
Congrats, you’ve failed. The story above is the typical failed fitness routine story. You start with energy and passion, and by the next week you’re already tired. The reason you failed isn’t because you got lazy. It’s because you set your goals too high. Which brings me to my point:
The most effective way to become more active is by setting manageable goals. Start with something seemingly insignificant like 5 or 10 minutes per day. Here are the 3 main reasons why.
- Success Mentality – If you set a goal too high, and you are unable to meet its demands, you consider it a failure. Failing not only means that you are not becoming more active, it also means that you have successfully demoralized yourself. You have reinforced the notion that you are not capable of succeeding when it comes to fitness, and this only lessens the likelihood that you keep up with a fitness routine. A much more successful goal planning strategy would involve you making smaller goals, ones that you know you can manage, so that you can say to yourself, “Yes, I did it! I can set goals and meet them!” This will give you the encouragement you need to commit to future goals.
- Fitness Level – If you are just getting back into fitness, it is unlikely that you will be able to jump into a program that demands you work out for at least 60 minutes per day. Your body just doesn’t have the physical capability yet. A safer bet would be to start with something small, even if it’s just 5 minutes per day. This is more appropriate for your fitness level, and gives your body a chance to build up to working out for 60 minutes per day, instead of immediately jumping into it.
- Safety – the last reason is safety. The very act of working out breaks down your body. Only in recovery do we become stronger. If you commit to a workout that is too intense for you, you risk getting injured, and you definitely can’t meet your fitness goals if you are unable to work out. This is why yoga is a particularly strong choice for beginning a fitness program, because it is a no-impact form of exercise that helps you develop the foundational movements and movement patterns required to have a strong, balanced body.
You’ve got your 3 reasons, now let’s put this into action. Below you’ll find a simple, 6-minute morning routine. 6 minutes, that’s it! Make this something that you do every day or every other day. Set the goal, and commit to it. As you meet your goals, you will be encouraged to add more minutes to your workout time, and before you know it you’ll be working out for 30, 40, 50, or 60 minutes at a time. And you know the best part? You won’t even have to force yourself to do it, because you’ve made a habit out of it.
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