• Gail Johnson

Four ways to start or stick to a fitness routine

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Swimming photo

Fall seems like a good time for resolutions: maybe, like me, you need a bit of a detox after summer. (Why does camping always have to call for endless amounts of potato chips?)

While we all might have the best intentions when it comes to working out, something usually gets in the way: work, kids, kids' activities, house-cleaning, cooking, fatigue, depression, laundry, taxes, social life, work.

Here are four ways to help start or maintain a fitness routine as we transition from summer to autumn, or any time of year.

1. Book your workouts in your calendar. Whether you still use a good, old-fashioned Day-Timer or Google is more your thing, make an appointment with yourself. Try a couple of times or even one a week to start, then build up. Block that time off as if you were having a meeting with your boss or a dentist’s or doctor’s appointment: THIS IS NOT AN APPOINTMENT THAT CAN BE CANCELLED. Treat it with the same value you would any other important commitment or plan.

2. Remember workouts don’t have to be an hour long. Life’s busy. I get it. Some days (or maybe many or most), 30 minutes might be too much. OK. Book in 20 minutes. ANYTHING YOU DO IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. Keep in mind, too, that, while a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is the recommended minimum, it doesn’t have to be 30 consecutive minutes. Maybe you do 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes after work. It still counts, and you’ll feel better for it—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

3. Feeling crazy stressed out? All the more reason to fit in any smidge of physical activity you can. EXERCISE IS THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR STRESS! The physical benefits of fitness are great: it’s good for your heart, lungs, circulation, and weight maintenance or loss. But the mental benefits are sometimes overlooked: after even a short amount of activity, you are GUARANTEED to feel clearer, calmer, and less anxious. You will be more productive, more focused, better able to concentrate, and more efficient.

4. Working out—whether it’s going to the gym, for a walk or run, swimming, biking, hiking, climbing, paddle boarding, whatever—may seem an impossible task if you’re depressed. It’s the worst Catch 22: you know you’ll feel better after you move your body, but you’re too down to even contemplate it. Here’s where you need to pull out all the stops, use all the strategies you can to make it happen: Put on upbeat music or whatever kind of score lifts your mood, even incrementally. Plan to meet a friend; having someone waiting for you makes it harder to back out. Do something you actually enjoy; if the treadmill bores you, skip it! Try a group class or a run/walk clinic or swimming lessons. Also, see #3.

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