Most people I know don’t like to work out. I have to talk myself into it almost every day. But these tricks can help you every day make exercise a habit. You may not look forward to it, but you’ll be working out every day.
- Cool workout clothes. They always say that if you look good, you feel good. And having at least one great-looking workout outfit will make you feel spectacular. Every time you get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you’ll say, “Darn, I look good!” You’ll look forward to putting on your spiffy workout clothes and doing your workout.
- Look beyond the workout. You’ll feel wonderful when you finish your workout. You may not want to start your workout because you know it’ll be hard, so look ahead a half hour. Yes, your hair may be a mess when you’re done, and you may stink to high heaven. But you’ll feel amazing! Your cheeks will be flushed, your eyes will be bright and you’ll feel like you can take on a whole football team and win!
- Your cool workout clothes and your sneakers will be staring you in the face. And you don’t want your free weights to get lonely, do you? And if you work out at home like I do, you only have to push “play” to start. No commute time or anything. And you’ll be done and feel amazing (see #2. above) in no time.
- Set tiny, achievable goals each day. If your workout has a set of 10 pushups and you’ve been doing them on your knees, do one full pushup. Or if you’ve been using 3 pound weights for curls, try a set with your 5-pounders. Or try jogging for a half-minute when you’ve been marching. Pretty soon you’ll be doing the full workout, and you’ll have to buy heavier weights!
I work out in the late afternoon. Many advocate an early-morning workout since distractions may be fewer, but late afternoon works for me. And it turns out that I may have inadvertently stumbled onto the most effective workout time!
- Better sleep when working out later. Studies have shown that those who lift weights later have better sleep than those who exercise earlier.
- Those who work out later have more muscle growth and better endurance.
- A study in Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that those who exercise later lowered their blood pressure by 15% more than those who work out earlier.
- A study from The New England University of Birmingham found that those who work out in the evening can go 20 percent longer and at a higher intensity. So, more calories burned!
- Your body will be ready to work out later in the day! Studies have found that cortisol levels (which inhibit muscle growth) are higher in the morning, but testosterone levels (which boost muscle growth) are higher in the evening.
So, I’ve been on the right track all along.
But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t work out if the best time for you is the morning. Any workout is better than none!
Some days you just don’t feel it. Me too. You don’t feel like getting sweaty. You’re tired. Your legs are tired. You’d rather be reading. You’d rather be listening to music. You’d rather be playing with your dog. (I know, I advocate playing with your dog over almost anything else, but …) But working out is something I have to do at least 5 days a week. What tricks do I use?
First, if I’m feeling especially frumpy I put on my good workout clothes. Silly, right? Good workout clothes? Isn’t that a contradiction? Nope. If I feel like I look good doing those lunges, it makes it better. So, put on those leggings! Put on that body-hugging top that makes the most of what you’ve got! You’ll feel great, and more likely to do the workout. And if you look like that inspiring trainer you saw on Facebook, you may just get a better workout!
Next, promise yourself 8 minutes. Just start. 8 minutes is nothing! Then it’s 10 minutes, 15, 25 and then you’re done! It just takes 30 minutes a day. That’s it!
And if you don’t work out for yourself, do it for those around you! Yes, when you’re done, you’ll feel great. You’ll feel virtuous! But you’ll also be more patient. You’ll be nicer to those around you. You’ll have more time for the family. Work out for everyone else as well as yourself!
(That’s me feeling all virtuous!)
We all want to get old, but we want the best quality of life as we age. We want to be able to do what we did when we were young (or as close to that as possible). What’s the secret?
Retired occupational therapist Barbara Knickerbocker Beskind suggests that good posture and a brisk 30-minute walk every day are the keys to aging well. In her article, “The Surprising Secret to Aging Well” in The Next Avenue, Beskind suggests that good posture and that walk from early childhood on will build bones and keep us young. It will build bone density and balance reflexes that will cut down on debilitating falls and injuries in later years.
Beskind states that walking has enormous benefits — emotionally and even creatively. This is in addition to the well-known benefits to the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems. A sturdy gait pattern with alternating arm/leg movement helps maintain balance reflexes and strength in lateral hip muscles. And going for a walk frees the mind for creative pursuits.
So you don’t have to go crazy – just a brisk walk (with your head held high and your arms swinging in opposition to your gait) will help you achieve the golden years of your dreams!
Did you know that breathing correctly helps you feel less tired? Yup, it’s one factor that internist Dr. Holly Phillips identifies that proper breathing is one way to feel more energized in her book, The Exhaustion Breakthrough.
At least once an hour everyone should make the effort to breathe correctly, that is, consciously and deeply, from the diaphragm and not from the chest. Inhale fully and exhale fully. You’ll stand straighter, with no slumped shoulders.
Check in with your body once an hour while you’re at it. To start, set an alarm – your phone has one built in. From the top of your head, down through your jaw, your shoulders and chest, your back and hips, your legs and your feet. Stop clenching your teeth and locking your jaw. Align everything. Put your feet flat on the floor. Check for any areas of tension or discomfort. And fix it! Poor posture makes you look tired and feel tired! Stand up and walk around. Then, when you sit back down, you’ll be more energized.
Take 10 deep breaths when you sit down. Full, slow, diaphragmatic deep breaths. You’ll be straighter and maybe even taller! Now reset your alarm and get back to work.
Whatever you do, keep moving. To stop is to atrophy. And to atrophy is to die.
I know, there are some days when it just hurts to get out of bed. I have those days too. From the bottom up and the top down. Neck hurts. Shoulders hurt. Back hurts. Hips are killing me. Knees hurt. Even the ankles hurt.
But that’s no excuse! Whether it’s arthritis, bursitis, muscle soreness or just sleeping funny. Get up, get dressed and move!
I know it’s not easy. Life isn’t easy. But the more you move, the less you hurt. Those first steps to the bathroom are slow and uneven. Maybe I’m even limping a little. But by the time I finish my morning ablutions, it’s a little better. And then when I’m dressed and the dogs fed, it’s better still. And by the time I finish my coffee I can face a short walk. And then I can work out.
And don’t skimp on the workout! You’re cheating yourself if you do! Yes, modify the moves. Yes, take a break when you need to. (If you’re doing a DVD exercise program, hit pause – again, you don’t want to cheat yourself!) Drink plenty of water during the breaks. But don’t cheat yourself!
And when you’re done, chances are you’ll feel great! Or, if not great, then at least you’ll be proud of yourself for finishing!