As someone who spent most of his life without any regular exercise routine, it is curious that I now enjoy exercise so much. What’s the secret? Here’s a few tips for you to consider:
1. Do something you love. There’s no way to sustain an exercise routine if you are doing something because it would be “good for you” or because you “should.” That motivator, in and of itself, is not sufficient. You also have to love the experience in the here and now. If running is your thing, then run. If it’s cycling, then cycle. If it’s gardening, then garden. If it’s swimming, then swim. You get the idea. Keep trying different exercises until you find the ones you love, the ones that fit your personality. Then do them consistently, as a treat to yourself.
2. Psych yourself up. Even when you love your exercise, it’s still important to psych yourself up ahead of time. I have a client who psyches herself up by laying out her workout clothes the night before and then putting them on as soon as she rises in the morning. I like to sit and think about about my run before leaving the house: How long? What pace? What route? What to wear? And even, what question do I want to think about while I run? When I’m feeling sluggish or unmotivated, the mental psych can get me out the door in a better frame of mind.
3. Make continuous adjustments. Sometimes, even the best laid plans do not work out. This morning I intended to run 8 miles in the woods, but after I got on the trail my energy flagged and my legs grew weak. So I decided to turn my trail run into a nature hike. I stopped running and started walking, noticing all the sights, sounds, and smells of spring. In the end, I went no more than 4 miles for the day, but I felt great rather than disappointed by my exercise. Why? Because I was at choice rather than victimized by how things turned out.
4. Make it convenient. There’s nothing more convenient than running: shirt, shorts, shoes — go. How easy is that! Other sports may not be that easy, but they can still be convenient as to location, timing, and equipment. It was not until we had purchased some home exercise equipment, for example, before my wife settled into a regular routine. The right location and equipment made all the difference in the world. Finding a gym on your way to or from work is another possibility for making exercise effortless.
5. Vary the routine. For most people, variety adds interest to any project. That’s as true when it comes to exercise as any other project. No two days are the same when it comes to my routine. Different routes, exercises, and goals all factor into the plan. From day to day and week to week, I usually have a pretty good idea of what I will be doing when. Given the variety, I am always looking forward to something new and exciting.
6. Learn from your mistakes. It’s important to not only make mid-course corrections; it’s also important to learn from our mistakes. If something doesn’t go according to plan, what does that tell us? Perhaps that flagging energy was due to a lack of sleep or the wrong workout pattern. Trial and correction, not trial and error, is the right attitude when it comes to both exercise and life. The more we learn, the easier it will be to keep the pattern going.
7. Get support. Although support will be different for different people — including group activities, personal coaches, and training videos — it is important for everyone to take into account if they want to enjoy exercise on a regular basis. The right support can elevate the energy of exercise to the level of fun.
That, in the, end is the put of exercise. It’s not just to add to our quantity of life in the long term; it’s to add to our quality of life in the here and now. When exercise becomes fun we may no longer even think of it as exercise. It just becomes an essential part of rich, full, and enjoyable days.
Coaching Inquiries: What’s the best experience you have ever had with exercise? What does that tell you about yourself? How could you have more positive experiences with exercise on a regular basis? What adjustments would you need to make? Who could assist you to figure this out?
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
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