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Exercise Is Important (and Valuable) to Sustained Health

By Dr. Molly Casey

Exercise and Sustained Health

Exercise is one of the most important elements to a healthy life. Life is about movement and motion. Recently I wrote about the effects of a sedentary life spanning from increased risk of disease, decrease in mood and mental health, and a whole host of other hardships. Many spend most of their lives seated in this day and age. Exercise will not obliterate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle; however, if done properly, consistently, and long-term, exercise will improve your health and well-being. Here are six tips to help you create and maintain sustainability in your exercise habits.

Clarity

Clarity is the first law of success. One cannot successfully achieve something if they are unclear as to what they are doing and what goals or steps are looking to be attained.

Get clear on your commitment to exercise, first in the manner of why. Why is exercising important to you? Is it for the health or feeling of being in your body? Is it longevity in life to see and play with your grandkids? Perhaps it’s simply how you actually look in your body? Clarity in your reasons should fuel you in general and specifically motivate you when you are struggling to get out there and be consistent. So get clear on why you want to exercise.

Get clear on your commitment length. Is this a long-term commitment, like the rest of your life? Or is this a shorter-term commitment to train for a race or sporting event? You can simultaneously have long- and short-term goals. You can be committed to a lifetime of movement six days per week and a short-term 12-week goal to run a race. That is OK.

Be clear on your goals, where you are, and how you’re currently engaging with them; to not be clear in your commitment is to fail before you’ve started.

Accountability

Accountability is about being held responsible for what one says they are going to do. Accountability partners -- either a group, personal trainer, or a workout buddy -- make sticking with your commitment and completing your goals easier than going at it alone. Life goes up and down for everyone. When you commit to hold another person responsible and for them to hold you responsible, it adds another level of depth and substance to your journey. It’s harder to quit if you’re going to disappoint someone else; it’s easier to get inspiration and motivation from someone walking the path as well. Accountability partners can be in the form of a buddy who lives next door or across the country and you check in after exercise completion. They can be in the form of a personal trainer or a group class. Be creative and think outside of the box. Take note that accountability partners don’t have to cost a darn bit of money ... so that is not an excuse.

Routine

Set a routine. It is OK if the routine shifts from day to day or cycles throughout the month or year. For instance, you lift weights in a group class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but run in the park on Tuesday and Thursday, and run sprints at a gym on Saturday. Or maybe you cycle your workouts every 12 weeks. Get clear on a routine and stick with it. This includes time. The more you set a specific time of day and amount of time for exercise duration, the more likely I find it that folks stick to the actual routine.

Track Progress

Tangible results fuel sustainability. I find most people are looking to achieve some sort of specific result with exercise commitments. The greater the clarity in your goals, the easier it is to know if, and when, success is achieved. The only way to know where one is at in the process is to track progress. It’s a step that people often forget and it often hinders the process. When you see movement forward, no matter how small, it fuels continued work.

Variety and Fun

Ever heard that variety is the spice of life? Mix up your workouts. This may sound directly opposite to the routine I noted above. However, it is not. Keep the routine of the schedule cycle and integrate variety into the workouts. The body adapts. It learns to burn the least amount of calories with the least amount of effort. So if you run the exact same loop of six miles for years on end, it is still positive movement but your body will adapt to it and find the most effective way to burn the fewest amount of calories. And, frankly, people quit exercise often because of boredom. Make it fun. Exercise with friends. Run a race instead of spending an hour at the gym. Lift weights three days a week in a group class even though that may not be your go-to. Switch it up and have fun.

Movement is life. Get clear on your commitment to movement and to life. Find new ways to integrate it into your everyday existence. Even if you hate it, you may be pleasantly surprised that you can do what you hate and learn to love it. Ask your chiropractor if you’re lost for ideas because chiropractors are all about motion, movement, and life.

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