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Exercise is essential for our overall health. It can boost our mood, relieve stress, increase energy, improve sleep quality and lower our risk of health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
But if exercise is so important, then why is it so dang hard to do each day?
Trust me, I get it. I live an active lifestyle, working out everyday, and yet I still have that mental debate each and every day. But the endorphins boost and sense of accomplishment I get from a great workout is so rewarding. So, here are seven tricks that actually work to help you get more exercise day to day. And no, going to the gym and doing a hardcore weight workout isn't required. Here's my secret sauce for getting more active each and every day, one step at a time.
so this isn't really a secret. Creating a regular habit of working out would be ideal -- duh! It's creating that habit that's the tricky part. Here's where I can help.
One of the most efficient ways to build a habit is through the Cue-Routine-Reward system. MIT researchers discovered the power of the neurological loop at the core of every habit. This "habit loop," later coined by Charles Duhigg in his 2012 book The Power of Habit, consists of three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward.
This system can apply to building any habit, from drinking more water to waking up earlier. But it can certainly apply to creating a workout habit.
For example, say you want to wake up and go to the gym each morning before work. The cue, what triggers the habit, would be the morning and your alarm going off. (Choose a time that works best for you and be consistent. Using multiple cues like time of day and sound can increase your likelihood of performing your routine.)
Your routine, the habit or action you want to create and reinforce, would be getting up and changing into your workout clothes. This can help prevent you from going back to sleep and ensure you hit the gym since you're already ready. And once you finish the routine (the exercise), you'll be rewarded. This could appear in the form of endorphins as a bodily reward that can motivate us to do the routine again, or it could even be a tangible reward, like buying yourself new socks after a week of hitting your exercise goals or investing in a new yoga mat after a month of doing yoga each day.
Each person will have a different response to these three elements. It's important to experiment with what cues and rewards work best for you to develop a consistent routine of training.
A lot of people assume they need to run themselves ragged in the gym to get more fit, but that's really not true. All you need is about 30 minutes a day.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week -- that breaks down to a little more than 20 minutes each day. They also recommend strength-training that works the major muscle groups at least two times a week. Thirty minutes is an ideal place to start to fulfill your weekly needs.
You can also start with low-impact activity. A
brisk walk in the evening is a more-than-sufficient workout. You can
also refer to this guide for the best workouts for beginners.