If you’ve ever tried following a workout routine, then you’d probably agree that exercise is hard and takes a lot of work. Proof: there are way too many people with health problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle. But you know what? Exercising actually isn’t as bad you think. Admittedly, working out might never be as pleasurable as eating ice cream or watching your favourite show (unless you’re a gym rat), but the tips below can make regular exercising easier, even for a couch potato.
Tip #1: Make exercising fun
The best way to make exercising easier is to turn it into a fun activity by doing things you actually enjoy. For instance, if you love music, try getting into ballroom dancing, which is great for cardio and muscle toning. Do you have a green thumb? Get into gardening; it’s an excellent low-impact workout for burning calories. Are you a video game fan? Start exergaming on your Wii, Kinect or Move. They’re a viable form of aerobic exercise and can burn more than 200 calories in 30 minutes.
Tip #2: Integrate exercise in your activities
For some reason, many people think that exercising regularly means devoting a huge chunk of your time each day to jog or pump iron. Actually, you don’t have to buy an exercise machine or get a gym membership. All you have to do is integrate exercise in your daily activities and make it a routine. For example, you can skip the elevator and start taking the stairs. Or instead of driving to a nearby meeting, take a walk.
Tip #3: Take the necessary precautions
If you’re new to exercising, then you should take precautions before you start. You should always start by stretching to warm up your muscles and avoid injuries, but don’t forget to cool down as well. Hydrate before (about an hour) and after exercising by drinking fluids with electrolytes, but drink just enough to quench your thirst. Remember to bring a drink with you, especially if your exercise is longer than 20 minutes and it’s hot outside.
Tip #4: Start gradually
Exercising is good for you, but you shouldn’t suddenly do 60-minute workouts when you start out; this will result in overexertion, injury, and possibly respiratory infections because of immune suppression, all of which can discourage you. You need to start small by working on realistic short-term goals, then gradually increasing your exercise time and intensity. The key word here is "gradually".
Let’s say you want to start running. Obviously, you can’t go full-on sprinting on your first attempts. You have to begin with walking regularly (don’t forget to stretch!); then adding several seconds of jogging every other day, which would gradually increase to minutes; and then decreasing your time walking by seconds, and so on. The point: you have to start easy then progress.
Tip #5: Exercise with your friends
Want to make exercising easier? Bring friends along. They’ll make your workout more fun and make you more accountable (e.g. you get pressured for cancelling). If you want to spice up your exercise with competition, try team sports. If you’d rather have no competition, go for yoga or aerobics. Either way, exercising would be much more bearable—so bearable that you’d do it regularly!
Tip #6: Reward yourself
While the benefits of exercising are already an incentive unto themselves, you still need to reward yourself to keep you motivated. However, you’ll have to track your progress to find out if you really are moving forward, because this would determine if you deserve your prize. You also need to be honest with yourself because treating yourself to a reward for little or no progress would take the motivation out of exercising.