Do you have an exercise regimen that you love? Too often, people who are exercising feel like they have to and dread it. People who aren't exercising on the regular also dread it.
What if I told you there was a way for you to move your body and love it? There are so many different exercises to choose from and if you actually enjoy it you're more likely to do it. It also gives back in so many other ways when you enjoy it and aren't dragging yourself to the gym.
How To Find An Exercise You Love
First, you need to ask yourself some very important questions.
Do you like to be in the great outdoors or in air conditioning?
What time of day would be best for you to workout? Is it daylight or dark at this time?
What is your goal of implementing exercise? i.e. flexibility, increasing muscle mass, improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, stress management, longevity, bone health, etc.
Are you a lone ranger or a social butterfly?
How much time do you have to exercise?
What is your stress level? Remember to factor in psychological and physical stressors, such as, lack of sleep, illness, insufficient calories, inflammation, chronic pain, etc.
Answering these questions is going to lead you to a few exercises on the list below and then you can choose from there or give them all a try and see what you enjoy. Don't shy away from trying something new. You might just surprise yourself.
It's also a good idea to choose a few in different categories. You can really benefit by adding variety and sometimes it's just helpful to keep if fresh and not do the same thing every single day.
Types of Exercise
This is not a complete list, but it should be enough to get you thinking. I'm breaking it up into categories, but know that some of these exercises meet more than one category. For example, biking is great cardio, but you may gain muscle mass as well.
Always consult your trusted medical practitioner before
implementing a new exercise routine.
These exercises are great for cardiovascular health, but will not be helpful for bone health. These can also be helpful for stress management, longevity, and improving insulin sensitivity.
These types of exercises are great for increasing range of motion, improving mobility and balance, and releasing tension. They are also great for adding movement when your body is already under a lot of stress.
Strength training is great for building muscle mass, increasing strength and bone mass, and improving balance and posture.
Body Weight Exercises (i.e. pushups, lunges, squats, etc.)
Cardio is great for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood pressure, and improving cardiovascular health. As a weight-bearing exercise they also support bone health. However, some of these may not be a great addition if you are under a lot of stress.
Sports (i.e. tennis, soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey, etc.)
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How Often Do I Need To Exercise?
Sometimes your schedule will dictate how frequently you can get in exercise. If you're limited on time, do it when you can. Something is better than nothing. Even if it's 5 minutes a day.
If your schedule is more flexible, then you should incorporate exercise based on your goals. For example, if you are trying to build muscle, you need work the same muscle group within 2 days. So you could spend 30 min, 6 days a week rotating lower body and upper body or do a full body workout, say 60 minutes, 3 times a week.
If you are training for an event, you should find a training plan that fits your current level of fitness.
If you are trying to incorporate exercise into your life, then start small and don't over do it. This is another reason why variety is key. You can do 2 days of weight training and 3 days of walking or yoga. You could run 3 days a week and ride a bike 2 days a week.
I try to move for 30 minutes a day. Sometimes that's a walk, sometimes it's yoga or stretching, and sometimes it's just moving a lot throughout the day (yes, that counts too.)
You definitely need to listen to your body and include rest days. As you build strength and endurance you can add in days or lengthen your workouts, but you don't want to over do it. That just leads to injury or burnout. More isn't always better.
Going to the gym five days a week used to be my thing. Now you won't catch me in a gym. I'm all about convenience so I prefer to step outside my door and go for a walk or do an at home workout. Don't be afraid to change your mind or make a change that fits this season of life.
Don't forget about things like gardening, shoveling the driveway, or even cleaning. If it gets you moving or increases your heart rate...it counts.
There isn't a magic answer to how frequently you should exercise or a perfect exercise that does it all. Everyone has to find what works for them. Don't let perfection get in the way of progress. Just start.
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