How to find and stick to an exercise regime that works for you
More than perhaps ever before, working out is important for women of all ages. With an increasingly sedentary lifestyle requiring little physical activity, we now find ourselves having to make a real effort to remain fit. It is the key to a long life, good health, and a happiness whether we like it or not!
We have all taken part in the excuses; I don’t have the time, I can’t afford the price of the gym, I have more important things to do with my time, my husband and family need me etc…
There is some truth in this; time is certainly a factor. I, like many others, lead a busy life. I have an ill parent to care for as well as a husband and a home to take care of. On top of that, I also have both a job and a career. Like many of you, my schedule is hectic. Also like many women, I can’t afford the price of a gym. My money goes on family, friends, and charity; not for me.
But for all that, we women have to stop putting everything and everyone else before ourselves. It is a habit that is hard to break, for sure, but if we do not, we won’t be around to take care of the very people whose welfare we put above our own. So how can we fit exercise into our lives despite all these conflicting priorities and demands on our time?
There is no perfect form of exercise to fit everyone’s individual needs. The trick is to find the right one that fits into our lifestyles and that will help each of us to achieve the results we seek. Some of us may want to simply slim down. Others may want to tone and shape. Still others may seek to build strength or flexibility. And some of us want a combination of any or all of those things.
Another key component in finding the right workout is to find something that we will enjoy. Most people associate working out with pain, anguish, and discomfort, but that need not be the case, if we can find the type of workout that fits who we are as individuals.
Amongst others, there is yoga or Pilate’s to slenderize, tone, and increase flexibility. There is kickboxing for gaining strength, self-confidence, and obtaining a sense of self-empowerment. There is dancing for flexibility, grace, and heart healthy aerobic exercise. There is weight lifting for shaping muscles and building strength. There are hundreds of different types of workout possibilities open to women today; no matter their age, their physical condition, their income, or the amount of time they have to devote.
No program will be easy at first, particularly for those who have not exercised in a while. The change will be a shock to the body’s system. However, it will eventually become easier for those who stick with it and commit to a long-range program. It is important not to get disappointed when instant gratification doesn’t happen. Remember the old saying: Nothing worth having is easy or better yet “No Pain: No Gain.”
Here are some workout guidelines for women of all ages. Follow them and I promise that you will be on your way to a healthier, happier, and more satisfied you.
- Choose a workout program that fits what you want to accomplish and your own individual personality and lifestyle. Don’t decide to lift weights just because your husband already has some. You may not really want to “bulk up” and unless you enjoy weight lifting, your commitment will wane quickly.
- Make sure your physician is on board with the workout program you have chosen. If you have one or more medical conditions, it is crucial that your doctor pre-approve any and all workout programs.
- If you want to lose weight while you work out, determine if you also need to adjust your eating patterns in order to get the most impact out of the change. If so, make those changes before or at the same time as you begin your new work out regimen.
- Always warm up before you start a workout. You want to strengthen and/or flex your muscles, not damage them.
- Wear appropriate clothing. It should be loose fitting, comfortable, and stretch as you exercise. Shoes should provide the proper support.
- Make sure you have the right equipment. If the program you have chosen requires equipment, make sure you have it on hand. For example, if you intend to lift weights, make sure you have the right type and size of weights for your program requirements.
- Never exercise right after eating. Give your body time to digest your food. Otherwise, you may upset your system and impede your workout.
- Don’t exercise when you are sick. You could further wear down your body’s immune system and prolong your illness. Wait until you feel better.
- Follow the workout program’s instructions. No matter what program you are following there will be a set of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Follow them. They are there for a reason – to protect you!
- Set up an appropriate routine. With some programs it may be okay to exercise every single day. However, with others, it might be better to take a day off in between. If you are uncertain, consult the experts in the area. Once you set up a working routine, stick with it as much as possible. If you get off of it do to illness or something else, get back on at your earliest convenience and keep moving forward.
- If you feel pain at any time during your workout, STOP! Do not workout further until you determine the source and cause of the pain. That may require a trip to the doctor. However, don’t risk your health. Do whatever is required to insure that continuing to workout will not damage it.
- Breathe! No matter the workout program chosen, breathing is key. You may have to learn to breathe differently than you normally do. That’s a small price to pay for long-term health benefits.
- Cool down after exercise. Stopping a workout abruptly, without proper cool down, can be as dangerous as starting to workout with warming up. Take the time to bring your heart rate down and cool off your body.
- Follow your workout with a hot shower or warm bath to soothe and relax your muscles.
- Don’t give up too quickly. Just because you don’t get immediate results that you can see in the mirror, that doesn’t mean that the program isn’t working. Give it time. Commit to a certain length of time before changing your program or abandoning it.
- Form a support group. Make sure you have someone to cheer you on in your efforts. It can be people that workout with you, family, or friends. You will get tired and discouraged if you don’t have support.
- Continue to increase your efforts. That might mean that you workout a little longer, add a little more weight, or try something a bit more difficult. But once your muscles are used to the regular routine, it is important to give them something new to keep them active.
- If the first program you choose doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t abandon working out altogether because the program you chose isn’t working. Perhaps you just chose the wrong program. This is your health. Take it seriously!
- Have fun with it! Just because you are working out, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too. Add some music, try a new routine, join a group, or do anything and everything else you can think of to keep yourself interested in continuing the program.
- Be proud of yourself! You have taken a big step forward not only for yourself but also for those people that you love most in your life. Pat yourself on the back. Buy yourself a new outfit. Celebrate your success.