How to Begin Working Out
Building up a new habit isn’t easy, especially when it’s dreadful. Most people don’t like working out. But countless studies have revealed the benefits of working out.
Benefits of Working Out
- Reduction in depressive symptoms: You can find many scientific studies advocating the benefits of exercise relating to depression. Working up your body’s heart rate causes endorphins to be released, which in turn make you feel good or happy. New research has found that steady, low-intensity workouts increase the release of neurotrophic proteins, or growth factors. In some depressed patients, areas of their brain were found to have been decreased in size compared to normal subjects. Therefore, exercise could be a crucial treatment option for those suffering from mental disorders. Other symptoms of depression (disturbed sleep, appetite changes, and mood swings) can be stabilized with a regular exercise routine.
- Coping with stress: The constant stress from life trying to balance out family, work, and personal affairs adds up. Many suffer from constantly high cortisol levels. Cortisol is intended to help your body mechanically cope when stress (supposed life or death issues) come into play. It mainly deals with long term anatomical functions rather than immediate changes. Here is a link describing the different hormones involved in stress. Adrenaline and non-epinephrine work to increase your heart rate and awareness. Exercise works by utilizing these hormones and putting them into action. When your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, it is expecting a reaction. If you don’t fight (release your energy through exercise), you will go into flight mode (cowering down due to the stresses of life).
- Overall improvement of body well-being: Of course the general benefits of exercise include improvement in circulation, higher muscle/bone density, preventing aging, increasing sleep quality, etc. Here is a link describing the common benefits with scientific research to back it up.
Now that you know the benefits, how do you get started?
How to Build a New Habit
- Start small: Commit yourself to one physical activity 10 minutes per day. It’s easy to tell yourself to exercise when it isn’t for a long time. Eventually once you have gotten into the habit, you can increase the time lengths. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Just do it the next day. Do not let no be an option.
- Find a workout buddy: The easiest way to stay motivated, is to find a partner to drag down with you (or up shall I say). Hold each other accountable. When one doesn’t feel like working out, you demand they stay and force it, vice versa. Setting up a routine together will keep you committed.
- Set up a routine: Upon waking, include your workout routine. I find a morning workout is the easiest to convince yourself to do since you do not have much time to coax yourself out of it. If you cannot do morning, try scheduling before work or after. Times when you are outside the house and might as well workout. Or if you schedule in between errands, say you have a doctor’s appointment at 10 AM and go to work at 1 PM. Might as well squeeze in a workout while you are out instead of wasting time running back home. As long as you set a daily time to workout everyday, your goal will be much more attainable.
- Buy a gym membership: For some, it’ll be easier to force yourself to get moving if you know you’re already paying for it. Gyms offer the benefits of a productive atmosphere that is bound to get you into the mood. Along with tons of exercise equipment which will give you a variety of workout options.
- Count down to five: If you’re tempted to talk yourself out. Simply count backwards from 5 and head into the workout full force. Distracting your brain by counting down may help get you out of the habit of saying no to discipline and exercise.
- Find something you ENJOY: A workout regime won’t last if you do not enjoy it. There are many options out there. Swimming, soccer, basketball, running, hiking, walking, martial arts, dance, cross-fit, HIIT, etc. Anything that gets your body moving and blood flowing is considered exercise.
- Change it up: If you get bored simply change up the routine. Find a new workout regime, change your scenery, or even get new workout clothes. Something that brings you out of the mundane schedule.
- Create a REASON: If you know why you want to start working out, you will be more likely to continue working out. Those moments when you want to give up, resort back to your reason and you will be reminded of your goal and true purpose.
- Create a mantra: I am strong. I am beautiful. And I am successful. Some silly mantra that doesn’t have to be related to working out will distract your mind when the pain tells you to stop. If you struggle with continuing on because it seems like too much effort, a repeated affirmation will throw off the complaints of your brain. Just remember to know the difference between pushing yourself and working towards an injury. As long as you keep proper form and eat healthy, most the time the pain will be your body adapting to new stresses. A good thing to work towards building.
- Motivate yourself: Find ways to stay motivated. Sign up for a race, a community workout, or a hiking group. Surrounding yourself in a healthy environment will keep you energized. Finding videos that discuss the benefits of working out or talk about exercise routines, keeps your mind focused on improving your daily habits.
Here is a link on building a new habit, with science to back it up.