We all have habits: both good and bad. The bad ones we want to discard in the garbage. The good one we want to nurture. A good habit can be a source of opportunities to enrich our lives. But it’s up to us to discover them.
The Exercise Habit
We all know that being couch potatoes is absolutely to be avoided. So we figure out ways to be physically active. That usually means getting some kind of exercise. If you don’t happen to have a job or involved in something that requires you to be physically active, then you have set aside time for actively exercising.
Since the Center for Disease Control, CDC, guidelines call for 150 to 300 minutes of exercise a week, it usually means we have to exercise three to five days a week. To keep up this regimen, we develop a habit and try to stick to it. For example, it could be going for a brisk morning walk or it could be going to the local health club or gym in the evening after work.
This habit has to be repeating week after week, month after month, year after year. To keep up our motivation, we start evolving the habit.
Evolving the Habit
How exactly can or do we evolve this habit. This is where our creativity can create opportunities to enrich our lives.
Exercise with Other People
Some people enjoy a workout out in the company of others. For example, it could be:
- A walking companion
- participating in a spinning class
- Having fun in a Zumba class
- A weekend running group
Your social interactions with others may provide opportunities to enrich your lives while at the same time meeting your exercise needs.
Exercise on your own
Working out with others may not work for everyone. Some may prefer to go running because the activity can be done whenever time becomes available, unlike say spinning classes, which are scheduled for specific times. Some prefer to go run in the morning before going to work while others may opt to go after work or even during the lunch break.
Running, in particular, being an aerobic exercise significantly increases blood flow in the brain. As a consequence, it may create new pathways in the brain (neuroplasticity). For example, when you run on a quiet and/or scenic bike path, your mind has a chance to wonder off and help you with something that has been vexing you recently. Unfortunately, if you end up having to run along busy streets or highways, there is too much other distractions for your mind and you lose out on a tremendous opportunity. So next time your mind has been in overdrive, change your habit and go jog along a quiet trail.
Add variety to the Exercise Habit
Doing the same exercise day-in, day-out may cause you to lose interest. So change your habit and add variety. For example, you could be doing one type of exercise one day, another the next, yet another the day after that. Or, you could do one set of exercises one day, another set the next and so on. Adding an exercise,which is fun, can get you looking forward to the participation. For example, if you like Zumba, join a Zumba class or it could be a dance class. If it’s a new kind of dance, it will help your brain form new pathways as you learn new dance moves. You may come across interesting people and possibly opening up new horizons. For example, if you enjoy the dancing and are able to learn the moves, you may take up more advanced classes and potentially get yourself a new habit (dancing).
Hire a coach
If you go to the gym for your workout, you could hire a coach. A coach could change the dynamics of your habit by encouraging you to stay on track, introduce variety, teach you correct techniques, and help you achieve goals. A coach is not necessarily needed, but if you can afford it and you have a hard time sticking to the workout on your own, a coach can evolve the dynamics of the habit. By improving you physically, it’s possible the coach may indirectly introduce you to new opportunities.
Come up with a Reward System
To add spice to the workouts, you could reward yourself. Think of something that is both healthy for you and which you would enjoy immensely. An opportunity to indulge in something you crave.Some ideas may be:
- Getting a massage
- Going on a quick getaway
- Going out to lunch or dinner at an exciting restaurant
- Eating a dessert you longed for
Change your Routines
You may start out with exercise routines that you are familiar with or were introduced to you. It’s fine to stick with them for a while. But, at some point you will want a change. There are a large number of exercise routines at your disposal. They exercise different parts of your body. There are even many different kinds of routines for exercising the same parts of your body. The huge benefit of all these options is that if you are willing to spend a little time to learn new routines, you can continually stay engaged with your exercise habit. It’s also likely that your body develops so much that you may end up wanting to participate in competitions. Or, do things you have always wanted to do but were unable to before you began the exercise habit.
Track your progress
Keep a journal of your exercise activities. You can keep track of how much you ran, weights you used with the reps and sets. Keep it simple, so that it doesn’t take too much time maintaining the journal. Fitness trackers can be used to track your walking and running activities. Other tracking techniques include weighing yourself, taking regular pictures of yourself, or using the measuring tape. For some, they may provide motivation, especially if you start noticing progress. Opportunities may start presenting themselves because you are starting to look much healthier, have more energy. However, just keep in mind that healthy changes in the body take time.
Balance your Exercise Habit
It’s good to allocate sufficient time for the exercise habit. However,if it happens that you are too busy, then cut back. No need to get stressed out: opportunities are presenting themselves in other activities. Evolve your habit: instead of spending one hour at the gym, may be spend only 30 minutes or even skip it. Or if going to the gym takes up too much time from your compressed schedule, you could exercise around the home. A brisk walk in the neighborhood, yard work, or sprucing up the home might be a good substitutes.
If circumstances cause you to skip a day, fine. Resume at the next scheduled day. Or, if you go on a vacation, resume after you get back.
Studying the details of your habit, may provide insight into how the habit could be evolved to keep you motivated and provide new opportunities.