There’s something about the short, cold days of winter, the long hours spent indoors and the daily diet of heavier foods over the winter months that inspires us to make changes as we begin to move toward longer days and the anticipation of warmer weather.

If you’ve chosen improved physical fitness as a personal goal for yourself this year, there are many benefits you'll likely experience. Whether it’s been a while since you’ve engage in regular physical fitness or you’re introducing it to your weekly routine for the first time, the practice of an exercise routine can add significant benefits to your life.

To begin including fitness in your life consider the following ideas:

1. Experiment.

Participates in a variety of different types of movement before you make a commitment any one type of physical activity. Take a cycle class, rock wall climbing, Pilates, yoga, Zumba or any other number of classes, try outdoor fitness, such as skiing or running. If exercise is new to you, it’s especially important that you find an activity you enjoy. This will make maintaining your commitment much easier, and it will become something you look forward to each week. Gym or club memberships can be costly, so experimenting to find the right fit for you will ensure that you make regular use of your membership and that it offers the types of activities you’re seeking.

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2. Find a buddy.

Having a friend with you can help in many ways. Engaging in fun, new activities together can make the activity less intimidating and more rewarding. Having a friend or partner with you can also increase your motivation as you hold one another accountable and share your positive and negative experiences.

3. Schedule fitness.

Just as you plan your week to include work, family, personal and community commitments, include fitness in your schedule. When you schedule something in your plans for the week, you're much more likely to do it. Make it part of your day or week as you would other activities that are important to you. In addition to including fitness in a schedule, make it work for you by creating a system that flows in your life. Perhaps the facility you attend is close to home, work or school, or perhaps they have extended a.m. or p.m. hours; assess your needs, then find a system that will work with your life.

4. Consider a personal trainer.

Consulting with a fitness expert can be helpful to someone just starting out or someone wanting to change their routine. If you're new to fitness, it may be helpful to have guidance from someone to establish a starting point and to create achievable goals. If you've been into fitness for a while, consulting a trainer either short term or on a regular basis can provide you with strategies to achieve greater results.

5. Be consistent.

Once you make the commitment to yourself to increase your level of fitness and create a scheduled routine that includes regular, weekly participation in the activities of your choice, be consistent. If you’re consistent with the activity, you'll see results, and as you begin to feel better and look better, it won’t be as difficult to motivate yourself to continue on your fitness journey. In fact, you’ll probably start to miss it when you don’t participate.

6. Keep a journal.

Keeping brief notes on your experiences with fitness can be helpful and motivating. Record things such as the type of activity, the duration, intensity and how you felt afterward. Over time, you’ll be able to look back and see an improvement in all of those areas; information that can be used to celebrate your achievements and success.

7. It’s not all or nothing.

Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments every step of the way, whether you’re meeting your goals or haven’t quite gotten there yet. If you meet your goal of participating in your chosen activity three days a week for one hour each day, but one week are unable to do so, no worries: you’ll get back to your routine the following week. Circumstances will arise that interfere with your schedule. The important part is that you get back to caring for yourself, and including fitness as part of that equation as soon as possible after the interruption.

Enjoy some movement today. Exercise is fun; it gets you moving, and it leaves you feeling great!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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