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Exercise is one of the pillars of longevity. The benefits of exercise are many: heart health, weight management, better sleep, improved mood, more energy and many more. The biggest benefit? Reducing your risk of chronic illnesses. Through exercise, you’ll stay healthy longer, age well and feel great.
Getting started on a routine exercise habit is the hardest part. Use these 10 ways to put some more fun into your exercise routine.
Add a FriendFind someone to be your exercise buddy. Don’t choose just anyone: Pick someone who is full of energy, fun and who you look forward to spending time with. That way, you’ll want to exercise just to be with your friend.
Group FitnessGroup classes are a way to meet new people, have an instructor to keep your form and effort good and be motivated to go each time. Shop around for your class: Find an instructor who has both knowledge and enthusiasm. You can gauge the social tone an instructor creates by watching if anyone talks to him or her before or after the class and if the other participants talks to each other.
Play SomethingWe use the word “play” in front of sports because they are fun. You “play” tennis, golf, soccer, softball or any other sport. Find a sport that you used to “play” when younger and take it up again. Choose a team sport when possible to add some socialization.
Audio Books and PodcastsGet yourself a tiny music player and download some audio books or podcasts. Hundreds of free podcasts are available covering any topic you can imagine. Audio books can also be easily downloaded. This way, when you think about exercising, you can be looking forward to “reading” the next chapter in your novel.
New ShoesGo exercise-fashion shopping. Start with your shoes. Go to a good running or fitness store and have a salesperson help you find the perfect shoe. Each type of shoe supports you foot differently, so you need to make sure you have the right shoe for you. Bring in your old running or exercise shoes; the wear marks will tell the salesperson how you run. After the luster wears off your shoes, go back for some new shorts, shirts or other accessories.
Chart Your StatsThousands of people obsessively chart the stats of their favorite baseball, basketball or football players and teams. Do the same for yourself. Create a wall chart and log your exercise activity, vital statistics (weight, measurements, best times, maximum lifts, etc.). Chart every detail of your exercise routine for a month. You’ll feel great as the information gets up on the wall.
Mix It UpDon’t do the exact same exercise routine every day; mix it up. If you always run on the treadmill, run outside on a nice day. Take a week off your lifting routine and do a Pilates class instead. As soon as you feel your exercise routine becoming a rut, find something else to do.
Measure, Don’t WeighThe scale can be the worst factor when it comes to motivation. You may be working hard, but your weight just stays the same. Part of the reason may be that you are adding muscle while losing fat. Another reason is that it just takes time and changes in your diet to lose substantial weight. So stop looking at the scale every day; instead, take some measurements. The tape measure will show change well before the scale does. Measure your chest, upper arms, stomach, waist, upper thighs and calves. Be sure to measure in the same place each time. Add those measurements to your wall chart and watch the progress.
TV, Videos and MusicMany people find that a bit of distraction helps get them through a workout. Get a tiny music player and load it up with inspirational music (change the music weekly to give you some surprises). Watch TV shows while on the treadmill or put in your favorite movie and watch 1/2 of it each time you exercise. That way, you’ll be able to watch one or two movies a week. You can do the same with TV shows; record your shows or rent a series and watch while exercising. You’ll look forward to your exercise just to find out what happens next in the show.
RelaxAt the end of exercise (after you “cool down”), give yourself 5 minutes of relaxation. Just lie down on your back and let your body sink into the floor. Close your eyes. Relax. Feel the effects of exercise in your body. Look forward to the deep relaxation that can come after physical activity. You may find that you start exercising just to experience this feeling.