By: Rasheedah Billups
We’re all trying to find time to fit work, loved ones, sleep, social obligations, and countless other things into our 24-hour day, so we prioritize. The things that carry the most importance gain a prominent spot in our day. And those things with less than competing importance get pushed to the ‘one day’ list. One thing on that list that a lot of us probably have in common, fitness.
A 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that only 23% of Americans get enough exercise. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do at least:
- 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or
- 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or
- An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week
Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
Additionally, adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
Why is exercise essential?
Exercise is necessary if we want to be our best selves. It’s a key component in maintaining good health and looking our best. Regular exercise reduces the chance of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses. It also leaves us with glowing skin, more energy, and improved moods.
We first started learning about the importance of exercise as early as grade school, but less than half of us incorporate regular exercise into our lives. Over the years, exercise has fallen to the bottom of the priority list for a lot of us. When we do think about committing to fitness – during an impending New Year or in preparation for a friend’s wedding – we’re overwhelmed with crowded gyms, competing financial obligations, figuring out where to start, or finding time and energy to exercise after a full day of work and other daily tasks.
What’s your fitness why?
There are tons of options out there – boutique gyms, specialized workouts, trainers, yoga and pilates studios, at home workout solutions, group fitness classes, fitness app’s, and etc. Some work and some don’t. There’s probably a truck load of fitness success stories for each of these. Nothing in life sticks unless there’s a purpose for it, at least not anything that requires work.
An important fundamental part to making exercise part of your lifestyle and making progress on your fitness journey, is identifying your why. We all know exercise helps us get and stay healthy and even helps us build the physique we want. But we’ve always known this. We’ve had mandatory physical education classes all through our schooling and despite our educators’ efforts to drill it into our heads, a lot of us still find a way to avoid exercise.
Knowing why you want to get fit helps personalize your fitness goals and fuels your motivation and discipline. For example, I’ve decided to incorporate regular exercise in my lifestyle because I want to be able to play volleyball with my daughter without getting tired. I also want to look in the mirror and be inspired by the progress I’ve made and my commitment to my fitness goals.
Ask yourself these questions to help uncover your fitness why:
- What are my fitness goals?
- Why are these goals important to me?
- Am I willing to make exercise a priority in order to honor my why?
5 Things to Do Along Your Fitness Journey
- Breathe. Throughout your fitness journey, relax! You’re making a lifestyle change, not checking an item off your to do list and moving on.
- Focus on you. Don’t compare your fitness journey to anyone else’s. Comparison always leaves us in a bad place. You may be comparing your day one to someone else’s three year journey.
- Build a plan that works for your life, but be flexible. Your plan should include specific goals, timelines, and a system for rewarding your success along the way. When setting your fitness goals, set yourself up for success. In other words, make sure your goals are attainable within the time frame you’ve set.
- Make it fun. There will be days when you won’t want to workout, it’s inevitable. Incorporating a little fun and variety into your exercise routine will help keep your mood and motivation in check. You can make things fun by switching up your workout, visiting different gyms (a lot of gyms and studios will allow you to try them for free or at a discounted rate), or taking a new class like spin, boxing, or aerial fitness.
- Build a tribe! Working out with a friend or significant other can go a long way. You can serve as each other’s accountability partners. One study found that 95% of people who started a weight-loss program with friends completed the program.
Fitness may not be a cakewalk but none of us have ever heard anyone say they regret exercising regularly. Instead, we have heard people say that they regret not exercising. The resources to help along your fitness journey are endless once you’ve wholeheartedly committed, and all that takes is some reflection on why fitness is important to you.
What are some things you do to stay excited on your fitness journey? Share tips, classes you’ve tried, or motivation in the comments below.