Finding Your Best Exercise
We all know exercise is important. From preventing heart disease and diabetes to maintaining our physical abilities to boosting self-confidence there are a multitude of reasons to fit physical activity into our weekly lives. But knowing something is important and actually finding the time to do it and enjoy it are totally different things! Many of you have tried to begin an exercise program, maybe multiple times, just to be back at square one a few weeks or months later. It’s very common to “fall off” the exercise wagon so to speak.
So how do you find an exercise routine that fits into your schedule, works with your current abilities, and that you actually want to do? Well, the answer is a little complicated. See you are all individuals with different lifestyles, abilities, and enjoyments. No one exercise plan is going to work for every person. Also, it will be a bit of an experiment or trial and error to find the right exercise plan for you. I’ve compiled a list of tips and strategies to finding an exercise program to suit your needs.
Pick Something You Enjoy
This may seem simple but sometimes it takes trying out a few different options to find the type of exercise you enjoy most. There are countless options for physical activity but we often go into this short-sighted thinking we have to either run, cycle, lift weights, or practice yoga. In reality we could choose from 100 of different exercise options. Try to base what you choose off of something you enjoy. Did you enjoy dance growing up? Maybe you could try your hand at Zumba or sign up for a ball-room dance class. Are you a sports fan and pretty competitive? Check out what type of leagues may be available in your area. Does going to the gym fill you with dread? See what type of exercise DVDs your library has or download a home workout plan to try.
If you try to force yourself into doing something you hate you most likely won’t be successful at maintaining your exercise routine. Finding an exercise you enjoy might take some time, but will be well worth it when you actually look forward to lacing up your shoes and heading out the door. Keep reading for more tips on making exercise fun! You can take this fun “exercise personality” quiz to get some ideas on what you might enjoy most.
Find an Accountability Partner
Not only can having a friend to exercise with make it more fun; it also helps you stay motivated and on track. It’s easy to talk yourself out of heading to your fitness class but it’s a lot harder when your friend expects you to be there. An accountability partner can be a great source of encouragement or even competition. Knowing someone is depending on your support and commitment makes you more committed too! Research supports exercising with a buddy to increase your activity. You can also reap the benefits of being more social with an exercise partner as well.
You don’t have to actually workout with your accountability partner. All you need to do is set aside some time each week to check in with each other and update each other your progress. Most of us would rather share that we are making progress instead of failing to make progress. You can do this via email, phone, or even text. Just make sure to pick an accountability partner that’s going to support and push you towards your goals.
Many times we over do it when starting an exercise program and that leaves us sore and worn out for the rest of the week, or worse, injured! Take it slow when beginning to exercise. As little as 10 minutes a day can be beneficial and it won’t eat up too much time or energy. Over time, build on the time and intensity of your workouts. If you would like more information about starting small for losing weight check out my 12 week Weight Loss Inspirations Course. Click below to find out more!
Try Something New
If you keep trying to make it to that 6:00 am boot-camp and keep hitting snooze instead of getting out of bed; maybe you aren’t cut out for early morning workouts. Try a different time of day! You can also try different types of exercises, classes, or programs. You might really enjoy kickboxing over step aerobics if you give it a go! Enjoy yoga? Try Goat Yoga! Like running? Try interval training or running hills. Doing the same thing for months gets boring and also prevents additional gains from exercise. Make sure you try new things occasionally to keep your interest and challenge yourself.
Determine What You Want from Your Workouts
What are your fitness goals? If you want to build strength, training for a marathon is probably not your best choice! Trying to lose weight? Cardio is more your friend in the beginning. Need to increase your flexibility to reduce pain and tight muscles? Yoga or Tai Chi is going to be a better option than that weight circuit at the gym. When you decide what you are trying to accomplish that can help you make the best choice for your exercise plan. If you are trying to lose weight, diet is more important than exercise, so you might want to check out how to go low-carb the healthy way and just choose the type of exercise you enjoy most for you workouts.
Choose a Sport and Make it Fun
Try getting involved in your favorite sport or activity. Most cities have leagues of different kinds from volleyball to bowling to kickball. Any activity can count towards your overall exercise goals. If you’re competitive by nature use that to your advantage. If you prefer playing just for fun regardless of winning or losing choose a league or activity with a group that feels the same way. Exercise doesn’t have to mean working out in the sense most of us think. Any type of activity can count if you’re moving more and sitting less.
Set Some Goals
Consider where you want to be 6 months from now? Are you trying to lift a certain amount? Run a particular distance? Sign-up for a challenge or a race. Having a date to work towards can focus your attention on improving your fitness levels. Think about doing a 30 day fitness challenge or another type of fitness challenge. Some online challenges will even send you a medal like Will Run for Bling and Charity! You can also sign up for fun events like midnight runs or muddy obstacle courses to keep you on track.
Make Exercise a Family Event
Include the kids in your exercise plans. Maybe you can plan weekly or monthly hiking trips where you live. Sign them up for the 1 mile kids dash offered by your 10k race program. Play flag football or ultimate Frisbee with the neighborhood families. Whatever floats your boat – just get the kids involved and the whole family can have some fun burning calories.
Fit it in Where You Can
Yes it’s optimal to have about 20 minutes set aside 3-4 days per week to get active, but maybe your schedule is really tight right now and you aren’t able to commit to that. Can you commit to a 10 minute walk on your lunch break 2 days? What about another 10 minutes after dinner 1 or 2 nights each week? Start sneaking in extra activity when you can and before long you will start noticing a difference in how you feel. Research supports benefits from small amounts of exercise. Obviously you get greater benefit with more exercise but why not capitalize on what you can achieve and not worry as much about what’s out of your reach at the moment?
Prepare the Day Before
Lay out everything you need the day before. Your clothing, snacks, shoes, and whatever else you need to make your workout a success. Place your gym bag in your car if you plan to hit it on your way to or from work. Have everything ready to make exercising as easy and smooth as possible.
Make it Count
12 minutes of interval training is all you need for a successful and meaningful workout (click here for more info). So if you are limited in time, make up for it with intensity! Really work towards putting in the effort when possible and increase other areas of activity as you are able. A short, powerful workout can be just as effective or possibly more effective than a longer, more moderate intensity workout.
Take the Path of Least Resistance
No I’m not talking about choosing the lightest weights at the gym. Make it easy on yourself to exercise! This might mean lacing up your tennis shoes for a run in your neighborhood instead of driving to them gym for time on the elliptical or it might mean doing a body weight strength training routine on nights you leave work late instead of hitting the gym and waiting on the machines you prefer to be available. Reduce the barriers that come up for you by planning ahead. Your exercise plan should reduce stress – not create it! Choose options that help keep you energized and calm. If you’re always rushing to your workouts, or worse, through your workouts – you’re going to be more likely to quit.
Hire a Professional
If you’re not sure where to start or would like to hit the gym but don’t know how to use the machines; you can always consider hiring a certified personal trainer. They can help lead you in the right direction based off your fitness goals and can show you how to do the exercise correctly and efficiently. Some trainers will even do group sessions – so bring your accountability partner with you! Paying your hard earned money is another way to make yourself accountable to your workout plans and keep you motivated to reach your goals.
Make a Plan
No matter what type of exercise you choose to do, you need a plan to implement it. Write it on your calendar, in your planner, or your bullet journal. Choose what days, what time, and for how long you will be exercising. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – so make an exercise plan! You might want to check out these meal planning tips as well while you’re at it and knock out both your meal plan and your workout plan at the same time.
What Exercise Will You Choose?
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Awesome post! I started off small by stretching and I found that after some time I actually wanted to do more. For me fitting in a 10-minute stretch twice a day was ideal. Great tips!
Thank you for your feedback Whitney! It’s much easier to start small. I like how you noticed that just getting started motivated you to do more!