Working out, like flossing and eating vegetables, is one of those things that’s so healthy that we all know we should be doing it, but getting into the habit of actually building and sticking to a regular exercise routine is harder said than done.
That being said, it’s well worth making the effort, as getting the hang of making a habit of working out regularly can offer you a list of benefits so long it’s overwhelming, including lowering your risk of disease and early death, improving your mood, helping you maintain a healthy weight, and keeping your energy levels high - among many others.
In this article, we’ll give you a list of some of the best tips for how to start (and keep!) exercising.
Let Go of Limiting Beliefs and Excuses
“I want to work out, but I just…” If you’ve found yourself saying a sentence that starts this way, it may be time to take a good, hard look at whether or not you may just be making excuses. This is difficult but necessary if you're serious about making long lasting changes.
Don’t have time? It’s all a matter of priority. Even ten minutes of exercise a few times a week can make a difference, and we all have time for that.
Too out of shape? Well, that’s why you want to start working out, silly!
Too old? No such thing. People are capable of working out well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond.
Too tired? Like we mentioned above, exercising can actually give you more energy.
At the end of the day, we can all find plenty of reasons not to do something. But when we take an honest look at the situation, you may just find that these “reasons” are really just excuses. If you really want to make it happen, you will. Period.
Take a Long Term Approach
A lot of the time, we want to work out because we have a particular goal we want to achieve. And often, we’re very impatient about achieving that goal. Not only do we want to lose 5 pounds, but we want to do it this week. We don’t just want a six-pack, we want a six-pack now.
If that’s your approach, you’ve got to hold your horses. The reality is that exercise is a habit you want to build for life, not for now. If you go at it too hard, without patience, you might overdo it and actually hurt your progress by getting injured and having to take time off and restart all over again.
The best exercise routine is one that is sustainable and realistic for you. There’s no pressure to go from zero to working out ten hours a week. The slower and steadier you are, the more likely you’ll be able to keep at this for a long time, which is what will ultimately lead to the best results.
Develop the Exercise Habit First
Speaking of which, starting small is also a great way to build the exercise habit, even if you do have intentions of eventually ramping up the intensity. To begin with, try just to incorporate several exercise sessions into each week. Let’s say you start by doing three to five 15-minute workouts a week. After a month or so, this will become part of your routine. Once you have that habit, it’ll be easy to start making your workouts longer and more challenging if you want to.
Get Enough Sleep
A huge part of exercise is recovery, meaning giving your muscles enough time to rebuild themselves after you’ve worked them out. Because your body repairs itself best while you sleep, the more you exercise, the more sleep you have to get. So once you make working out a regular part of your life, you’ll want to put in the effort to get enough sleep on a nightly basis. It will keep your energy levels up while helping your body repair itself from the physical stress of your workouts.
Stay Injury Free
In general, being mindful about injury is incredibly important once you become a regular exerciser. Injuries are terrible, but they happen, and the best way to prevent them is to be proactive about taking good care of your body. Listen to what your body tells you. If something hurts, ease off of it for a while. For example, if your shoulder muscle is bothering you, give it a break and workout legs instead. It’s important to stay flexible with your workout routine to give yourself the option to modify your workout based on how your feel. Do a solid warm-up before your workouts and stretch afterward. All of this will allow you to keep exercising in the long term without hurting yourself.
Get It Out of the Way
Consider working out first thing in the morning. Not only will you have more energy, but you’ll also feel great all day knowing you accomplished getting your workout in for that day. If you schedule your workout after your day job you will be tempted to skip your workout after a long days. This is why scheduling your workout earlier in the day is best.
Change It Up
To stop yourself from losing interest in exercise, especially over the long term, it’s a good idea to try to maintain variety in your routine. Don’t hesitate to change up your workout routine if you find yourself getting so bored of it that you lose motivation. For example, if your form of cardio is only running on a treadmill it will get old fast. Consider running around the neighborhood on nice days, ride a bike, mix endurance cardio with high intensity interval training (HIIT), hit a punching bag, play a sport, etc. There are many ways to keep it interesting, it just takes a little planning.
Incorporate More Activities Into Your Lifestyle
Not every workout has to be a sweaty, hour-long session in the gym. Do your best just to live an active lifestyle. For example, going swimming, hiking, or on a walk as a leisure activity is a great way to get some exercise in while also having fun and not feeling like you’re pushing yourself to work out.
Have you achieved a workout goal or reached a certain milestone, like working out consistently for a month? Rewarding yourself can be a great way to boost your motivation to stay at it. It can be as small as a ticket to a movie or something more on-theme like a massage or a new outfit to work out in. You deserve it. Set your milestones and rewards ahead of time so you can look forward to it as you progress.
Track Your Progress
Technology is your friend. There are many ways to use technology to help document your progress. Find what works for you. A few examples are, taking progression images, posting before/after images on social media, using a digital scale to sync with your phone, measuring your BMI over time, tracking your strength progression via mobile apps, tracking your diet via mobile apps, tracking your daily steps with wearables like Fitbit, tracking your heart rate variability with wearables like Whoop, tracking your sleep quality with wearables (Fitbit/Whoop). There are so many options to chose from today. Use technology to your advantage and start tracking your progress!
It’s okay to try many different things to see what works for you. It’s also okay to struggle to start working out. This is a big lifestyle change and it’s not always easy to execute. But once you do succeed, you’ll be so glad that you made the effort. These tips are the most helpful tips we’ve used in our early days of working out. It’s definitely possible to go from someone who hasn’t workout out in years to someone who works out 4-6 days a week long term. In this industry we hear it happen all the time but it’s not an easy journey. Hopefully these tips help you as much as they’ve helped us. Good luck. You’ve got this!