Research has shown that regular physical activity is among the factors that have the most beneficial effects on health. It helps maintain body weight, can boost your brain health, reduces the risk of heart disease, enhances the immune system, and slows the effects of aging. So why do less than 5% of adults perform the minimum recommended amount of exercise (150 minutes at moderate intensity or 75 minutes at vigorous intensity) per week? Many find that getting into the habit of working out can be a huge challenge. Not to mention that there are right and wrong ways to go about it safely. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, let’s talk about how to ease into a workout routine.
The best place to start is to determine your “why” and go from there. One of the reasons listed above may be motivation enough! Figuring out which is most important to you can help you stay on track when you might feel like quitting. Keep it in the back of your mind as you go through your fitness journey. You’re going to have good days and bad days, so having this “why” may be the thing that keeps you on track.
The next step is to set a realistic goal within a realistic timeframe. Upwards of 65% of all people who begin an exercise program end up dropping out in three to six months. This is likely due to the fact that we tend to set unrealistic goals that are unattainable within our projected timeframe. Start with smaller and more attainable short-term goals. Once you’ve set your goals, create a plan to reach them.
First and foremost, start slow. Progressive overload is a commonly utilized method with weight training and involves gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or repetitions in a routine. But it can be applied to cardiovascular fitness programs as well. Exercise is a science and should be approached as such. Your weekly routine should include cross-training, as I wrote about in last week’s PT Corner. Starting with anywhere from 10-15 minutes of exercise and slowly building in intensity, duration, and frequency. A general rule of thumb is increasing by no more than 10% per week.
Having a formal training plan or schedule to follow is a great way to help stick with the plan. When I used to train for marathons, I would write my six-month training regimen on the calendar as a way to stay motivated. Scheduling time into your day until exercise becomes part of your routine is a great place to start. Look at your schedule, determine the most ideal time for you to exercise each day, and then make it a recurring appointment. Always have a Plan B for when life gets in the way. If you can’t make your 60-min LYT Yoga Expresso class because of an unexpected engagement, schedule time for a 20-min HIIT class instead! If and when setbacks happen…and they will…don’t just throw in the towel. Be compassionate with yourself and get back in the game when you’re able. Doing something is better than nothing at all.
Finally, accountability is huge. I used to pick a fun destination for my marathons, so once I bought that plane ticket and entry fee, there was no turning back! Many times I would run them with friends as well. Finding a social network to exercise with is a game changer! My 5:45 am classes at the LYT NJ studio grew in popularity because we all began to feel like family. People would ask about or check up on those who missed a few days in a row. We looked forward to seeing each other and sweating together, even at the wee hours of the morning!
On that note, we just launched our LYT Yoga 6-week Build Your Capacity challenge, which is a great way to ease into a cross-training program, which has been designed to help you build better habits in the new year! You don’t need to be a LYT Daily subscriber to join, so it’s the perfect way to introduce friends, coworkers, and family members not only to LYT Yoga, but also meditation, strength training, HIIT, mobility, and flexibility work. Even experienced LYT yogis will find the cross-training to be a useful addition to their LYT Daily! Click the link below to check it out! Until then, I’ll see you on the mat!