This is a guest post by Greg Blencoe, @gregblencoe
In his recent post “How To Invest In Yourself (And Why)“, Dragos discussed the importance of exercising regularly.Â I couldn’t agree more.
I have been exercising in some form or another since I was five or six years old.Â I played on countless sports teams growing up.Â With the exception of a few breaks when I was only running, I have been weightlifting consistently since I was 15 years old.Â And I ran the Chicago marathon back in 2002.
Exercise has made an extremely positive impact on my life.Â I think a lot of my self-esteem and self-confidence is due to exercising.Â Furthermore, when I exercise, I am much more relaxed and can think much more clearly throughout the day.Â And I have met so many wonderful, uplifting people while doing activities involving exercising.
Here are five tips for incorporating exercise into your life:
1.Â Find an activity involving exercising that you enjoy
The first step in making exercise a part of your life is to find an activity involving exercising that you enjoy.Â This is extremely important.Â If you don’t enjoy the activity, you are much more likely to stop doing it.Â Fortunately, there are all kinds of different activities that involve exercise.
For example, you might enjoy yoga, tennis, swimming, aerobics, running, playing soccer, weightlifting, walking at your local mall, cycling, or hiking.Â There are obviously many other possibilities.Â The point is to find one or more that you enjoy, so you have fun while exercising.Â This will make it a lot easier to exercise on a consistent basis.
2.Â Exercise multiple times per week for 30-60 minutes each time
While there are some people (e.g. professional or Olympic athletes) that might exercise up to 4-5 hours or more every day with relatively few days off, you can achieve very significant benefits from exercising in much less time.Â For the average person, I think exercising 2-4 times per week for 30-60 minutes each time is about right.Â Of course, you should always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.Â And depending on your current level of fitness, you may need to start slowly and work your way up to this level.
3.Â Exercise consistently
I believe that the key to exercise is consistency.
I have seen friends of mine get very motivated about exercising for brief periods of time due to certain things happening in their lives.Â For example, a girlfriend breaking up with you or an upcoming high school reunion can definitely make a guy want to get fit!Â I have seen these people go from not exercising at all to working out very hard for a few months (e.g. exercising 1-2 hours per day for 5 days per week) and achieve amazing results during that time.Â However, every time, the person eventually burned out and found a reason to stop exercising.
I think a much better approach is to exercise consistently over a long period of time (preferably the rest of your life!).Â In very general terms, I would define consistently as exercising 2-4 times per week for 30-60 minutes each time during at least 75% of the weeks during the year.Â This would allow you to take up to about one week off per month.
4.Â Find ways to enjoy exercising even more
In order to become even more motivated to exercise, I highly recommend looking for ways to make your activities involving exercise even more enjoyable.Â Here are several ways you can do this.
One of the most common ways is to listen to music.Â You will not only enjoy listening to your favorite songs, but you will likely be energized which should make you work out harder.Â Furthermore, if walking is your primary activity involving exercise, you might also enjoy listening to audio books or podcasts during this time.
Another way to enjoy exercise even more is to mix up your routine.Â For example, a person who swims a few times per week might choose to play basketball instead from time to time to break up the routine.Â One way I do this is to work out at different gyms.Â My gym membership gives me access to all of the different locations.Â While I usually go to the location that is closest to me, I will often go to one of two other locations that are also relatively close.Â This allows me to see some of my friends that usually work out at those gyms.
Moreover, while I run inside when it is cold or raining, I run outside a lot when it is sunny and warm.Â There is a park right by the lake close to where I live that has a 4.5 mile (approximately 7.25 kilometers) loop where people can walk or run.Â I run there a lot from April to October when the weather is nice.
5.Â Live an overall healthy lifestyle
While exercising in itself is very important, it is really just one part of living an overall healthy lifestyle.Â Here are several suggestions for healthy living which will improve the results that you get from exercising.
The first is to watch what you eat.Â Let me say upfront that I believe that eating should be an enjoyable part of life.Â I don’t think that watching what you eat should mean completely taking away this enjoyment by eating very little, not eating any food you enjoy, etc.Â However, moderation is very important.Â For example, perhaps one piece of chocolate will do instead of two or three.Â And maybe eating a certain type of fruit would be just as enjoyable as an unhealthy snack.Â These small choices involving eating that are made every day make a really big difference over time.
Another suggestion is to drink mostly water.Â When I started doing this a few years ago, I lost 5-10 pounds in about a month.Â And I was very fit at the time.Â But it helped me to become even more toned.Â For the first week or two, the lack of taste with the water was an issue.Â However, I quickly got used to it.Â Now I don’t have much desire to drink anything else.Â And drinking water makes me feel extremely healthy.
Finally, I highly recommend doing your best to surround yourself with supportive, positive people.Â These types of people will make your life so much better by giving you encouragement and celebrating your successes.
If you are not currently exercising, I hope you will consider making it a part of your life.Â I view exercise as one of the best ways to become Brilliantly Better.
Author Bio: Greg Blencoe is the author of the personal development blog Positive Waves Baby.