I have been out of the military for over sixteen years but one of the disciplines I still maintain is my dedication to regular exercise. I also entered the military as a multi-sport athlete so I have enjoyed athletic competition for a long time as well. Regardless, whatever love-hate relationship you have had with getting your body moving in the past, you should realize that regular exercise is crucial to your quality of life, most importantly as we approach our “golden years”
The only way your fitness will become and remain a priority is if you choose to make it so, even if you have never exercised at all. It may not be easy, but it’s possible, and most of all, it’s important to your health. The key is to develop a routine that complements your new lifestyle–here’s how you do it:
1.Stay true to your level of fitness
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Physical Activity Guidelines, the average adult needs at least 150 minutes of weekly aerobic activity. Aerobic activity involves the movement of your large muscle groups and can be anything from running, walking and jumping rope to biking, playing tennis and swimming. It’s also recommended to add muscle-strengthening exercises to your routine a few times a week.
Depending on your current fitness level, you may or may not be able to follow the guidelines–and that’s okay! Your goal should be to get your body moving so you can be the healthiest version of yourself. Starting out, if your body can’t handle 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, make it your goal to complete 75 minutes until you can do more. If running proves too difficult, try alternating walking at a brisk pace with a slow jog until you build up your endurance.
Beginning a workout routine with unrealistic fitness goals will leave you discouraged when you don’t accomplish them, and you’ll feel more tempted to give up. In addition, your workouts may result in injuries if you push your body too hard. Start with a routine that matches your fitness level. After completing each workout you’ll feel encouraged to keep going, and before you know it, your body will be able to handle more strenuous tasks. A couple of years ago I went P90X crazy and, while it was an effective, challenging workout it was a killer on my knees and I should have bought better shoes. Plus I did not have enough square footage in my living room and some part of my tall frame inevitably ended up striking a ceiling fan or running into walls! So choose your exercise space wisely.
- Establish a Routine that Fits Your Schedule
As we age, hopefully we will have less demands on our time and can fit in exercise more easily. Some prefer exercising first thing in the morning because it gives them an energy boost to power through the day. Others would rather stop at the gym on the commute home from work, errands, or other appointments. As a younger, busy mother I used to run around the soccer or football fields while my children were practicing. I also used to work my core in the far corner of a gym when my daughter practiced volleyball. When we went on vacation I would take advantage of the hotel stairs to build up my endurance. Now that I live in Charleston with the added bonus of great weather, I have enhanced my exercise venues to include the beach and our county parks. Try exercising at several different times and see what you like best, that way you’ll be more likely to make it routine.
- Communicate with family and friends
While it’s important to meet the needs of your family, making time for your health should also rank high on your priority list. To seriously commit to a workout plan, you need to discuss your fitness goals with your family. Explain you need a few hours each week to focus on your health. There’s enough time to fulfill your parent and/or grandparent duties!
In addition, you’d be surprised what communicating this goal to loved ones can do for your confidence. They’ll give you some much-needed encouragement during the first few weeks of the new routine, and more than likely they’ll hold you to your commitment. They might also start participating with you. When my daughter had to prepare over the summer for her college volleyball team I did the workouts with her. Interval sprints are for me very challenging but I had a sense of great accomplishment and gratitude every time we finished a workout session, especially in our lovely July weather here in the Lowcountry.
- Remember to have fun
You’ll be more likely to stick with a routine if you have something to look forward to. Load up your iPod, mp3 player, or your phone with music that will amp you up for a difficult cardio set. Time will pass more quickly when working out to your favorite songs.
Or, choose an exercise you enjoy. Running is an excellent cardio workout, but if it makes you miserable, don’t do it! Swimming serves as a great alternative that works your major muscle groups and improves your strength, flexibility, and endurance. It’s also a good option for those with joint pain or arthritis. I have tried stationary and road cycling, swimming, yoga, Pilates and aerobics. They have all been abandoned due to lack of interest or coordination. What works for me are simple two-mile runs, with abs and triceps workouts. Also in the next year I will be golfing and I do not plan on using a cart.
- See the results
Improving your health and increasing your fitness level is a process. It may take a few months to see any results, but when you do, take a moment to celebrate. Knowing your body can accomplish something that was not possible a few months earlier is a powerful feeling, and you’ll want to keep pushing your boundaries to see what you can accomplish next.
Making time for an exercise routine is not easy, but it’s an important lifestyle choice to make sooner, rather than later. These tips will get you thinking about what you can do to find a workout routine that sticks so you can enjoy the healthiest life possible.
Personally, I do not believe i would not be as healthy as I am now without regular exercise. It is calming, energizing and honestly spiritual for me.
Make a commitment to start treating your body right. It’s honestly never too late, and before long you will miss not exercising. You will be trimmer, friendlier and accomplish more goals as you plan and live out the rest of your life.
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