When it comes to health and wellness, many people are stuck in the short term. There are so many fad diets, exercise crazes, and quick-fix supplements out there that it can be difficult to cut through the noise and create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that caters to your needs and goals. But it is possible.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to your wellness routine is that, for it to last, it needs to be personal. Everybody is different, and the way you choose to move your body and fuel it should reflect that. The fitness tips that follow are perfect for maintaining a lifelong wellness routine you can—and will want to—stick to.
Building blocks of fitness
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Likewise, improving your physical fitness takes time and effort, and any exercise program that promises quick results is unlikely to be either safe or maintainable. Instead, think about how you prefer to move your body and the activities you already enjoy, such as going for long strolls with friends or singing and dancing. When you make being active a natural part of your lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to stay active throughout your life.
If you’re new to exercise, the key is starting in small increments instead of jumping right into an intense workout program. Slowly begin adding exercise into your routine with a thirty-minute walk three to four days per week or a daily morning yoga session. Once that becomes routine, you can start to add supplementary workouts into your schedule until you reach a level you are comfortable with and can sustain. Below are a few ideas for activities you can practice at any age or ability.
Walking and hiking, whether around your neighborhood or on a trail, is a great low-impact form of exercise recommended for people of all ages. Just one thirty-minute walk each day can help you reach the CDC’s recommended amount of daily physical activity. And, while walking outdoors has numerous mental and physical benefits, walking can also be done inside on a treadmill or even up and down the stairs in your home.
Cycling classes have skyrocketed in popularity for a reason—bike riding is one of the most fun and freeing ways to work up a good sweat. It’s also easy on your joints, making it the perfect activity to practice throughout your life.
If you have access to a pool, swimming is an ideal exercise for raising your heart rate without putting a large amount of strain on your body. The gentle movement of your arms and legs can also help improve your muscle strength and range of motion, which can make it easier for you to complete other daily activities.
Many people enjoy dancing as a form of entertainment. However, it’s actually an incredible way to stay active and burn calories without even feeling like you’re working out. There are even entire fitness classes dedicated to dance as exercise, including Zumba and virtual dance classes on websites like YouTube.
Functional strength training
Strength is at the core of all exercise, and if you build on your muscle tone through functional strength training, you’ll find that it is a lot easier to enjoy physical activity even as you age. The best strength-training exercises include movements that mimic those you practice in everyday life and that build on core, back, and leg muscles.
Avoiding Workout Burnout
If your chosen fitness routine ever becomes unenjoyable or fatiguing, it’s time for a change. The foundation of sustainable exercise is that it’s a joyful activity. As soon as working out becomes a burden, you’ll be more likely to lose sight of your goals. But how can you make sure that working out stays fun?
Remember your “why”
It sounds like a cliché, but having a mission and purpose for staying active can help you stay motivated. Do you want to be able to keep up with your children or grandchildren? Are you interested in starting a weekly walking club with your friends? No matter the reason, set intention for your workouts, and you’ll see better results.
Working out is supposed to be challenging, but if you don’t take breaks and reward yourself when you hit your goals, you’re guaranteed to struggle and lose focus. If you hit a personal goal, such as a new record for miles walked or laps swum, treat yourself to something you enjoy! Hard work deserves a reward.
Listen to your body
Everybody needs rest and recovery from exercise. Too many back-to-back workouts can push your body to the breaking point and lead to injury or an inability to perform at your best. If you’re performing an exercise that is particularly challenging or different from anything you’ve done before, start slowly, remember good form, and be sure to stop if you feel any serious discomfort. The quickest way to put an end to your wellness routine is by pushing yourself too hard too fast.
Physical activity is essential for good health and longevity, but it doesn’t have to feel like a drain on your time or be a miserable experience. If you have a clear reason for getting started and continuing on your fitness journey, move your body in ways that you enjoy, and take it slowly, you’ll be on the path to a lifelong love of exercise.
Be sure to consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.
For more info, visit cdc.gov