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10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

Disclaimer: I am not a trained health and wellness guru, nor am I medical doctor. Before embarking on any exercise activities, you should consult with your doctor or healthcare professional.

Exercise. It’s an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Exercising can be one of the hardest activities to commit to doing regularly. Scheduling a workout is easy, but getting yourself to partake in some form of physical activity (i.e. exercise) is where things get tricky. Many friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people I meet often complain about wanting to exercise regularly, but all seem to have excuses why they are unable to do so.

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There are a combination of factors why people don’t exercise, a few of these factors are: 1) lack of time, or engagement with other activities that are deemed of higher priority than exercise, 2) physical restrictions, such as having an injury or disability, 3) good ol’ laziness, and 4) being ill. Aside from being ill, three of these excuses can likely be addressed and dismissed with a little motivation.

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Below are 10 steps I use to motivate myself to exercise more regularly:

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  • Determine the types of physical activity you like or dislike, as well as the activities that you physically can or cannot do. Focus on doing the activities you enjoy, can do, and able are to financially afford. You don’t need to sign up to a gym contract to get a good work-out. There are an endless number of exercises you can do without gym equipment or weights. You can learn more about such exercises by researching websites and videos online using search terms like “exercises without weights”. The key is to explore and try new and enjoyable ways of becoming and staying physically active.
  • Visualize performing the exercise activity. William Arthur Ward was quoted saying, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” This quote holds true even for small feats, like going on a daily jog. Visualizing gives your brain something to do before your body does it. It also makes exercising seem more surmountable, considering any obstacles one may face.
  • Time limit your activity and don’t cut yourself short. Tyler Durden from Fight Club said it best, “Don’t let the things you own, own you.” Your job, cell phone, computer, friends, or family can take up a lot of time, but surely you can grant yourself some time to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom, so why not a few minutes for exercise? For example, you can start with 5 or 10 minutes, three days a week, and build up from there. Even if you’re super busy traveling the world, you can take 5-10 minutes to stretch and do some push-ups or sit-ups wherever you are. You can always increase or decrease the time you spend exercising!
  • Form an exercise habit, no matter how small it is. One good habit can lead to another. Committing to too much exercise can burn a person out, especially if they haven’t had an exercise habit for a considerable period. Similarly, if you haven’t worked out for a long time, try starting with basic activities, such as simply dressing in your work-out gear, or going for a walk around the house or your neighbourhood. The key is to take time out for yourself and do something physical. Even taking 5 minutes to stretch your body is a good start, so long as you can keep doing it regularly.
  • Set milestones and goals for yourself. Having a fitness goal in mind can be helpful to staying focused. For example, if you wanted to be able to do 30 pull-ups in 60 seconds, you would want to work towards that goal by having several milestones, such as 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 pull ups in between. Milestones ensure you keep sight of your goal by having a set of achievable and quantifiable steps leading up to your goal.
  • Get involved in the social aspect of it. Exercising alone can be a bore. Fortunately, in the digital age, it is easy to connect with fellow exercise enthusiasts who enjoy meeting up with others to partake in exercise activities of shared interest. Facebook friends, Eventbrite events, local running clubs, social fitness apps etc. all help to connect you to other people who can motivate and make it more enjoyable to exercise.
  • Build interest in the industry. For example, if you are getting into tennis, learning more about tennis racquets, string types and tensions, tennis clothing, tennis ball types etc. are all part of the journey towards becoming a more informed player. Learning about the industry products and services will give you a greater interest and appreciation for your chosen sport or activity, as well as possibly helping you boost your performance, if you learn of new methods to improve and become a better player/participant.
  • Work towards your ideal self. Remind yourself of the body and figure you see your ideal self possessing and exercise your way towards it. Let’s be clear, that apart from possible health issues, there is nothing wrong with being overweight, but a person may have a self-image problem if they feel their self-confidence reduced because of their weight or body shape. There is no harm in imagining and working towards or retaining the body you want.
  • Having a better lifestyle. Once you start to feel the benefits of regular exercise, you may also start to become more conscious of the food you eat and other aspects of your health. Exercising, eating and drinking right, as well as adequate sleep, are all important factors of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and getting adequate sleep will make it easier to retain your exercise routine.

Don’t quit. Just because you may find it hard to continue to commit yourself to three 10-minute sessions a week doesn’t mean you should stop altogether. Some physical activity is better than no physical activity at all. Don’t quit because you fall short of your milestones or goals. Forgive yourself for slipping up, dust yourself off, and try again. The longer you hold your exercise habit, the less likely you will quit, and the more likely you will build upon it!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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