If You Want to Start Exercising Regularly, Read This

I know you already know exercise is really great for you.

But I’m going to tell you again. Because I know how easy it is to start an exercise program with the best of intentions but then stop after a month or a week, or not even get started in the first place. And after I tell you why it’s so healthy, I’ll go ahead and tell you how to make it just the teeniest bit easier to accomplish.

Exercise is so good for you because…

It prevents death. No, seriously. According to Dr. Traci Mann of the Health and Eating Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, even brisk walking or active gardening lowers your risk of death. The benefits show up even if you just exercise 75 minutes a week. It’s also been found to lower your chance of developing things like heart disease and stroke, which, I don’t know about you, sounds like something that would be good to avoid.

It helps reduce stress. I’m going to assume if you are reading this, you have stress. I am assuming this because you are a human who is alive today, and we pretty much all have some stress, whether it’s work-related, money-related, family-related, or all three. Stress can cause you to gain weight and suppress your immune system, and one great way to reduce it is exercise. In fact, exercise can also reduce your response to stress, should you encounter it after you’ve completed a workout.

Aerobic exercise makes your brain better. It helps with memory, it can boost creativity. It helps you sleep better. It helps prevent depression, disability, and memory impairments. Strength training helps people keep their muscle mass and muscle strength as they age. What’s not to like?

Oh yeah, I know: finding the time to do it. Here are some ideas:

Find something you enjoy. I know you’ve been told this before, but it’s absolutely true. If exercise is already on your “Meh” list, picking something you dread is not going to keep you motivated. Walk. Swim. Play basketball with your kids. Try yoga. Dance (in your living room, if you like). Just pick something you can see yourself doing long term, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Work it in when it works for you. If you know by the end of the work day you’re way too exhausted to head to the gym or lace up your sneakers, for the love of Pete, get up earlier and do it then! I know this might sound hard, too, but even setting your alarm 20 minutes earlier and taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood is better than nothing. However, if you’ve got tons of energy on your lunch hour or after work, exercise then. Or while you watch TV at night. It’s up to you, but pick a time that really fits in with your rhythms.

Make it social. This is good for a couple of reasons. One, it’s just more fun with others on board. You can walk with your friends or play a game with the family, and it’s automatically more fun than spending 30 minutes alone on a treadmill. The other reason is that you have someone to hold you accountable. If your best friend is getting her butt out of bed at 5:30 am to meet you at a boot camp class, you had better be there to meet her!

Make if-then plans so exercise becomes automatic. Do you have a tendency to schedule a workout and then skip it? Try coming up with an if-then statement to keep you on track. For instance: “If I feel too tired after work to exercise, then I’ll walk slower than usual at the gym.” If you’ve already got a plan in place so that even if you feel really tired, you’re more likely to actually go. Plus, when you start working out, maybe you’ll be energized and exercise like your normal self.

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