There’s a lot more to exercise than weight loss. Find out how a simple morning exercise can help you start your day with a calm mind and positive attitude.
Most people don’t fail to lose weight due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of patience. When you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself that there’s a lot more to exercise than weight loss. Exercise improves your life in some surprising ways.
Unexpected Benefits of Exercise
Yoga could be used as an emotional outlet. This mindful practice reduces stress and depression. After you understand proper form, consider adding meditation. A paper published in Psychological Science suggests doing so could help you make better decisions.
Resistance training is time-efficient. Full body strength exercises should be vigorous enough to increase the number of calories your body burns at rest. You’ll also experience an increase in testosterone, which might offer a helpful confidence boost right before a speech or presentation.
Cardio for an Improved Mood and Healthy Heart
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” -Plato
If you’ve not exercised (consistently) in a long time, I recommend beginning with a simple walk. Feeling sleepy? Take your dog out for a neighborhood walk to wake yourself up in the morning. Feeling stressed? Stop at the park on your way to the office for a calming nature walk. Invite a friend if you want to make it a social occasion.
You don’t have to jog on a treadmill (but you can if you want to). I prefer taking my runs outside. Having scenery to admire makes the process more enjoyable. And you can take your workouts to different places to give yourself different challenges. You could jog on a beach, run through the woods, or sprint up your stairwell.
Some people get bored at the mere thought of walking or jogging. If that sounds like you, try to make things more playful. You could jump rope, practice cartwheels, ride a bike, or join a Zumba class. If you have children, get them involved by challenging them to an early game of Tag or Red Rover.
Yoga Poses for a Better Posture and Calm Mind
“Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.” -Goethe
Note: I used videos courtesy of Yoga with Adriene, because I love how vivid and thorough her exercise descriptions are. I also included a key insight that I think you need to remember.
4. Staff Pose
Tip: Sit on a blanket to stay upright if you have a tendency to round your back.
5. Bridge Pose
Tip: Reach your finger tips to your heels to get in position before raising your hips.
6. Child’s Pose
Tip: If you need a breather during yoga class, use this as a cool-down position.
7. Downward Facing Dog
Tip: Create as much space between your fingers as you can, pressing through all areas of your palm equally.
Tip: Lift your hands off the mat to make sure you’re using your using the muscles in your back.
9. Mountain Pose
Tip: Raise your toes to make sure your weight is equally distributed through all four corners of your feet.
10. Tree Pose
Tip: Staring at a stable object in front of you (not a person) might make it easier to balance.
Resistance Training for Weight Loss and a Strong Body
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Gandhi
Notes: There are two separate workouts below that could be performed for 4-6 weeks. One requires zero equipment and the other requires dumbbells. Feel free to perform one consistently, or alternate them back and forth.
Body Weight Circuit
11. Glute Bridges
Tip: Focus on mindful movement, pausing at the top to feel a squeeze in your glutes.
Tip: If you can’t do a real push-up, practice with your hands placed on a wall or counter. This workout might help.
Tip: If you struggle to reach proper depth, practice with your hands placed on a door frame.
14. Inverted Rows
Tip: This might be tricky if you don’t have appropriate furniture. You could use a (sturdy) broom and two kitchen chairs.
Tip: If balance is a problem, practice with a hand placed on a wall or chair.
16. Bent-over Row
Tip: Keep your gaze forward and avoid the temptation to strain your neck.
17. Romanian Dead-lift
Tip: Maintain a proud chest and pull your hips back after you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
18. Shoulder Press
Tip: Place one foot behind you to add a balance challenge, or take a seat if you feel unstable.
19. Goblet Squats
Tip: Imagine you’re sitting on a dirty toilet while pushing your butt back to the bottom position.
20. Dumbbell Floor Press
Tip: Roll back with the dumbbells placed on your knees to avoid putting pressure on your back.
Resistance Training Suggestions:
- Rest for 60-120 seconds in between every exercise.
- Begin with one set if you’re a beginner, or two if you’re advanced.
- For the body-weight exercises, perform as many repetitions as you can with proper form.
- For the dumbbell exercises, use a weight that you can lift 8-12 times with proper form, and dedicate a workout session to practicing form with light weights to figure out your starting point.
- To make it more challenging: perform more repetitions, decrease rest periods, increase weight, or add another set.
Making Exercise a Consistent Habit You Can Enjoy
Choose one exercise type to concentrate on for now, but don’t be afraid to mix-and-match as you gain experience. Be patient with the process. Explore your curiosity until you figure out what activities are effective and enjoyable.
Will you commit to start your day with a simple morning exercise? I promise you won’t regret it. Tell us how exercise has changed your life in the comments. If you found this helpful, please share!
Featured photo credit: morning exercises through Shoreline/bluesbby via flickr.com