I love exercise--it’s definitely my favorite way to manage stress. It’s incredible to notice exercise boosting your endorphins. For example, you’ve probably heard that people who are avid runners can get a runner’s high each time they work out. This is because there are neurotransmitters in your brain that pump out good feelings when you work out.
Exercise can also be a great escape. A great workout takes your mind off of whatever might be happening this week or morning, because your body is focusing on movement rather than stress. Additionally, exercise helps you sleep better, which is a proven stress reducer. Sleep is incredibly important for the body, because it helps increase your mood and self-confidence, and lowers symptoms associated with stress and anxiety.
However, there are also a few rules I have for great, productive exercise.
#1 It should be challenging
I’m not saying every workout needs to be extremely challenging, because going for a walk or doing some yoga is also very beneficial for your body. Not all exercise has to be challenging, but most should be. You’ve heard the saying, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” and that is very true for me. Your heart has to be pumping, and you have to put some effort in for your most successful workout.
#2 It should be fun
If you don’t have fun, you probably won’t stick with it. You’ve all probably tried exercises and activities before that you thought were awful. For me, this was swimming. As much as I would love to pretend by buying a Speedo suit and putting swimming into my exercise plan, I just don’t have fun with it. I’ll lay on a raft and get some sun, but swimming is not personally enjoyable for me as cardio exercise. The most important thing is to find what’s fun for you, and try lots of new things until you do.
#3) It should be regular
In my opinion, you should exercise a minimum of four days per week. Typically, I do five or six days each week, because I really do love it and love the benefits. You have seven days a week to work with and I think four days is a good middle ground, and a realistic option for most of us. Not only will you feel better and be less stressed, but you’ll look better too. But if you don’t exercise regularly, those benefits also won’t happen regularly.
#4) It should become your lifestyle
I know some of us tend to give up after we start, but it’s important that you become an active and healthy person. You need to be able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m active and healthy” without your mind disagreeing with you. Start by saying that you’re in the process of becoming active and healthy so your mind believes you, and you’re able to achieve it. Once you have 30 successful days under your belt you can change up your verbiage and say, “I am active and healthy!” It takes a long time for anything to become a habit. It needs to be a lifestyle for it to really stick and become real. You can’t stop after the thirty days; you just have to keep going. In order to avoid having an “end date” to your fitness, you need to make it a part of your everyday lifestyle.