Ready, Set, Go!

  “I’ll start on the first of next month.” “I’ll start after New Year’s.” Do these statements sound familiar? The hardest part of working out and living a healthy lifestyle is getting started.  We all have comfort zones, and to leave those comfort zones can be intimidating. Setting a date to get started is easy, but pushing that date back is even easier.  So how do you address the age old question of “how do I start?” If you can set a date and stick with it, then by all means, mark it on your calendar. If you are the type of person that will push it back, then setting a date may not be the best option.  In this case, the best time to get started, is the present.  The process can seem overwhelming, but there are steps that can be taken to help make it less stressful.  

 

     The most important factor in getting started is that you have decided that you are ready to make the change.  Don’t start something because you feel pressured by a person or situation, do it because you have decided that this is the best thing for you.  Secondly, don’t let nerves stop you.  It’s normal to be nervous, but try turning that nervous energy into excitement.  You should be looking forward to starting your fitness journey.  Next step, prepare.  Go buy new workout clothes and do your research.  Research nearby gyms and decide which route is best for you.  If you’ve been inactive for awhile, consider a visit to your primary care physician for a physical.  This is a precautionary measure to ensure your health is in check and that no medical issues have appeared.  

 

    The second hardest part of starting a workout routine is maintaining the lifestyle change.  So, how do you stick with it?  Though, this will change per the individual, there are a few pointers that can help.  First, try setting small, achievable goals.  It’s definitely encouraged to set a big, main goal, but try setting smaller goals that can be met on your journey to the main goal.  This is a great way to stay engaged, and it allows you to hit checkpoints along the way.  Another tip, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  This can be a job you give yourself, or you could venture out.  If you have a friend who is also starting a workout regimen, you can hold each other accountable. The other option would be to invest in a personal trainer.  Personal trainers are great for holding you accountable and they can make great coaches as well.  Personal trainers decrease the risk of injury and will have an individualized program for you based on your specific goals.  Once you’ve figured out how to hold yourself accountable, the next step is not letting yourself get discouraged on your journey.  You will have setbacks and you will have days when you just “aren’t feeling it.” That’s normal, but don’t let setbacks and bad days discourage you from going forward.  If you need a break or a day off, take it, but don’t let it stop your progress completely. 

 

     Bottom line, start when you’re ready, prepare, and stick with it.  Once you incorporate your workout regimen into your routine, it will begin to feel natural.  Approach it in a way of something you get to do as opposed to something you have to do.  Don’t get discouraged and never forget why you started. 

What Lies Beneath

It’s safe to say that everyone knows the superficial benefits of exercise. The idea of decreased fat in exchange for increased muscle mass tends to be the first thing that draws individuals to engage in some type of physical activity. Unfortunately, these results lag behind and can be discouraging to the individual. However, what most people tend to forget is there is more happening with their bodies than what meets the eye. In fact, most of these internal benefits take affect as soon as an exercise program has begun. For example, have you ever noticed that your mood has surprisingly increased after a good workout? This is due to the endorphins your body has released during your workout. In addition, exercise helps fight feelings of depression and anxiety with the help of other hormones produced, serotonin and norepinephrine (Semeco 2017). With the positive mood changes associated with working out, it also increases energy levels. This is why some people prefer to work out in the morning because it gives them more energy throughout the day.

Exercise also decreases chances of developing osteoporosis by increasing bone density. As an individual’s chances for developing osteoporosis decrease, the risk for developing a chronic disease also decreases. A chronic disease is defined as “a physical or mental health condition that lasts more than one year and causes functional restrictions or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment,” (Raghupathi 2018). Some examples of chronic diseases include, but are not limited to, diabetes, cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, and obesity (Raghupathi 2018). Statistically, 45% (or 133 million) of all Americans currently suffer from at least one chronic disease. One issue that can lead to developing a chronic disease is a sedentary lifestyle, luckily, exercise can be used as a great preventative method (Raghupathi 2018). Exercise also improves brain health and memory retention by promoting blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This is beneficial in more ways than one since some chronic diseases affect the brain (Semeco 2017).

Do you ever find yourself struggling with aches and pains during the day? It was a common thought that rest and inactivity were best for relieving these pains, but recent research shows that the opposite is actually the best treatment. Exercise has been shown to decrease aches and pains by strengthening imbalances and weaknesses. You’ll also find that your sleeping habits will improve when exercising. The results of one study found that “150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week can provide up to 65% improvement in sleep quality,” (Semeco 2017). An additional study also found that 16 weeks of physical activity increased quality of sleep in individuals with insomnia (Semeco 2017).

In the end, exercise provides more benefits than what meets the eye. Finding a sustainable exercise routine that works for you is important for so many reasons. Exercise is a great way to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the immediate changes in your appearance, just remind yourself all the benefits happening to your body inside and out and stick with it. Remember, “you’re only one workout away from a good mood.”

Citations

Raghupathi,V. & Raghupathi, W. (2018). An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Visual Analytics Approach To Public Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(3), 431. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5876976/#sec1-ijerph-15-00431title

Semeco, A. (2017, February 10). The Top 10 Benefits Of Regular Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-exercise#section7