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5-Step Plan for Making Exercise a Habit

5-Step Plan for Making Exercise a Habit

Exercise has immense benefits, from cardiovascular fitness to lowering stress, but how do you to find the time, motivation, and consistency to get these benefits? If you’re just starting out, ditch the gym, fancy yoga classes, and scheduled group runs. Instead, focus on making exercise a habit first, and once you lock down a consistent exercise habit, consider adding them into your routine. The best part is that creating this habit is much easier than it seems.

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    5 Steps for Making Exercise a Habit

    1. Plan for Success

    In order to really commit to a new exercise plan, make a long term goal and set a date for achievement. Your goal could be related to time, distance, or new skill. Examples include holding a one minute plank, running a 5k, or a yoga headstand. Next, break down that big goal into weekly goals. Now, break the weekly goals into daily micro goals. Which brings us to the next step.

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      2. Make it daily

      Yes, even on the weekends – and here’s why: I know I’m not alone in making three-days per week running plans, while only running once or twice. Working late unexpectedly, rainy weather, or hanging out with friends easily derails these three day plans, especially as a beginner. Alternatively, commit to 10 minutes of exercise every. single. day. You can always find ten minutes in a day, and anyone who has done 1 minute of burpees can attest that it doesn’t take much time to spike your heart rate. If you go two weeks with no zero days, consider upping your duration by five minutes every week you hit all seven days, until you hit your desired length.

      3. Timing is Everything

      You have tons of habits and routines throughout your day. How you get ready for work, how you prepare to go out, what you do on Saturday mornings. The best way to ensure your new exercise habit sticks is by incorporating it into your existing routine. Decide on what activity will immediately precede your chosen exercise. For me, it is boiling the water for tea each morning. After I start the water, I do my ten minutes of yoga and stretching, I don’t even think about when to fit it in anymore.

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        4. Create a cue

        A cue will help push you over the edge when faced with the decision to exercise. It is often related to the timing, discussed above. When I first started doing yoga each morning, I unrolled my yoga mat in the kitchen (the only place I have room to practice) every night so that I could not forget about my goal in the morning. Other people find laying out their exercise clothes by the bed helps them roll out of bed and into workout clothes without thinking each morning. Find a good cue that works for you.

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          5. Celebrate

          Celebrating your successes when reaching milestones is key to forming a habit. A simple, non-food reward is printing out a blank calendar and marking an X each day you when you finish your exercise. After a few days, you get the added incentive to keep the streak going!

          Now that you have a good strategy for making exercise a habit, it’s time to get moving!

          Featured photo credit: Positive Mornings via positivemornings.com

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          Last Updated on February 18, 2019

          8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

          8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

          When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

          When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

          Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

          • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
          • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
          • HIIT
          • Spinning
          • Stairs
          • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
          • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
          • Machine Circuit Training

          And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

          1. Steady State

          Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

          An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

          2. Interval Training

          Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

          Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

          Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

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          3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

          Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

          With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

          Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

          4. Spinning

          Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

          To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

          It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

          5. Stairs

          One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

          So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

          6. Supersets

          A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

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          The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

          So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

          For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

          Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

          i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

          ii. Front Squat (4×15)

          iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

          iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

          v. Leg Curl (4×15)

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            Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

            vi. Front Squat


              Photo Credit: Stack

              vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

              viii. Leg Extension

              ix. Leg Curl

                Photo Credit: T Nation

                7. Compound Sets

                Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

                  This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

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                  Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

                  8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

                  Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

                  Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

                  Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

                  The Bottom Line

                  The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

                  By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

                  Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

                  More Resources About Weight Loss

                  Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
                  [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

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