Take care of your body-Exercise

Research has shown exercise to have positive impacts on a number of aspects of physical and emotional health.  It’s important not to approach exercise in a way that increases your stress or makes it likely that you will fail at your exercise program.  The question is, how can I do that?

Note: If you have health conditions that may impact your ability to do physical exercise, you may want to consult with your physician to discuss what you might be able to do in terms of exercise.

1) Be realistic. It is important to be realistic when setting a goal for exercise.  A lot of times, people come up with grand plans for exercising, which are beyond what they can realistically achieve on a long-term basis.  What happens is that they begin trying this program and become discouraged by their lack of ability to meet their goals, and they end up quitting altogether.

My philosophy is simple: if you are the one setting your goals, you might as well set a goal you can achieve.  When you set a goal (it doesn’t matter how small) and achieve this goal, there is a sense of satisfaction that can keep you motivated.

2) Go gradual. It doesn’t matter how small of a goal you set at first.  It may be that you plan to walk 1/2 mile 3 days per week.  Or even 1 day per week.  Just set a realistic goal that you can keep.  Over time, once you have that goal established as a pattern, add to it slowly.  Continue this method of slowly increasing.  If it becomes too much, remove one level of the goal, and go back to the level that you were able to do before.  The point is to set goals that you can consistently achieve.

3) Start over. Things happen in life.  You become ill for a week.  Your schedule makes it impossible to meet your goals.  Life throws things at you that get you out of your routine.  Most people try to step back into their routine at the level they were at before they got thrown off track.  This is a mistake, which will lead to a feeling of failure.  Start over at a level perhaps somewhat above where you first began the pattern in step 1, and build back up slowly to where you were.  If that doesn’t work, start over at the very beginning with your simplest goal.  Most people find that in doing this, they can progress a little more rapidly to getting back into the full routine than they did the first time around.

4) Avoid self-criticism. When you don’t meet your goal, don’t beat up on yourself.  Realize that your goal was probably unrealistic for where you are at right now, and set a new goal that you can reach.  If you criticize yourself too much, you will end up quitting.  And remember the goal is to reduce your stress, not add to it by being self-critical.

Facts to note:

A) It can take 45-60 days to establish a new habit.

B) Exercise has been shown to be beneficial with stress, anxiety, and depression. You may see a 20-30% improvement in how you feel.

C) Exercise can be helpful with certain physical conditions.

D) Exercise can increase your energy level and metabolism.

E) Exercising causes a release of natural endorphins (a pleasure chemical/pain killer).

F) Exercising at least twice a week can result in improved mental concentration.

G) Exercising may help buffer the effects of stress by causing new nerve cells to be generated in the brain.

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