Sustainable physical activity programs. What does this mean?
We all move at a level to suit our needs. But our needs can vary and so may our relative physical fitness. Do you want to be a step ahead so you can continue to enjoy all the things you like doing? Have you given up a favorite physical activity because of a lack of fitness?
The beauty of the physical body is it’s ability to heal and adapt, grow and shrink. So you can ask almost anything from it and it will perform. Especially when you help it get there in a sustainable manner.
So what makes up a sustainable physical activity program?
A sustainable physical activity program is one that allows for relative rest.
A) Doing the same thing everyday may produce muscular imbalances. There really is no perfectly balanced program. What we ask of ourselves on a daily basis can evolve and so should our exercise programs. Finding balance is a high order, but we can use our bodies signals to guide the process.
B) Relative rest means that everyday is not a high intensity day. Generally, movement like walking or gentle stretches may be more beneficial on some days.
A sustainable physical activity program is one that is practical/feasible
Time. If you are doing a class that starts at 5pm but you rarely finished before 5pm, this may be a bad way to start. Anticipate your time requirements accurately so you don’t have a built in excuse to not follow through.
Money. You don’t need to join a gym or pay for classes necessarily. Finding free videos on the internet is not a problem. It’s is finding what you want that may be difficult. Take five minutes at lunch each day this week and do a search. Bookmark the site page for later.
Alternately, find an activity that doesn’t require any thought other than getting dressed. Walking is free. Make it more enjoyable by listening to a podcast or to music. Build it into your day, like walking home from work, or take a brisk 15 minute walk at lunch time.
Equipment. If there is a gadget or piece of equipment that inspires you, can you borrow it or get a loaner before investing? Some gyms will bring their equipment to your door. Therabands, mats, weights, and exercise balls are easy to find.
Location. If the class you love is on the other side of town, look locally. Once we can return to gyms and studios easily, check out what is convenient, and even better, walking distance. Jumping in the car to drive to a class may add that extra barrier.
Weather. If you are outdoorsy, hopefully you know how to dress for the weather. Investing in the outerwear that makes sense will get and keep you outside exercising longer and more frequently. This will require a small investment if you live in winter climates.
A sustainable physical activity program is one that has meaning and is enjoyable
For exercise to have meaning you may have to dig deep and remind yourself of at least one positive benefit of having sustained an exercise program on a regular basis for a reasonable duration. Do you have a short term or long term goal? Is it overall fitness and energy levels that you wish to improve? Do you need to improve your health and become less sedentary?
Visualize yourself in the future after having successfully maintained a daily exercise program for a significant duration. How would you look and feel? Does improved physical fitness have an impact on other areas of your life? What would be different from then compared to now?
Increase your enjoyment by partnering up
One way to make it more enjoyable is to do it with a partner. The added benefits of working out with a friend or acquaintance increases the accountability factor. It provides a social interaction that is directed by exercise. Even if you are not doing the same program, can you do it in a similar space or online together? Consider sending an email invite or placing a Facebook post looking for an online partner. You may be surprised who is up for it.
Find a way to evaluate yourself or get some feedback
Can you commit to a group exercise class once a week? Check out the following posts on group exercise and how to choose a group exercise class. And get to know your instructor. Tell them what you like and what is difficult for you. In most cases, they will happily take and give feedback, providing them with an opportunity to show you modifications, progressions, or corrections on your technique. Another way to get feedback is to work one on one with a trainer or other health professional depending on your needs and resources. Your understanding of how to exercise effectively will increase the degree of intention behind each work out, making it more interesting and beneficial.
If pain is not the goal, exclude it
Pick something that you know you can accomplish without injury or pain. If you are laid up for 2 days post workout does this fit in with your goals of being active on a regular basis? If you experience discomfort, can your technique be improved? Maybe you can break the workout down into parts, and gradually add on new material as your fitness improves. If a pain problem persists, check in with someone who you know will be able to answer your questions.
Get in tune with how your body feels
Find something that makes you feel good. Maybe your good feeling doesn’t come until later in the day following a workout. It’s possible that it is the next day when you experience some sort release or positive benefit. Be in tune with your body and make connections with what you do and how it makes you feel. Get hooked on regular sustainable exercise and physical activity. It easier than you think.