After spending more than 10 years analyzing the top regrets of dying patients, nurse Bronnie Ware said, “Health brings a freedom very few realize until they no longer have it.”
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. From staving off excess body fat to reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease to improving your mental health, the benefits of exercise are extraordinary. In order to ensure that you reap the benefits of consistent exercise, here are a few tips to consider when getting started.
6 Tips to Start An Exercise Routine On the Right Foot
Heath and fitness is a journey, not a race. Exercising may be tough at first, and it will get better. You know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, the same goes for your body and its strength and fitness level! Before you focus on building muscle and losing fat or any other fitness goal, set a foundation in consistency and accountability. Little steps may seem slow at first, but over time they will get you to where you want to go without tiring you out the way that big leaps will. The saying “slow down to speed up” applies here. The “slow” route is actually the most direct route if you take into account the setbacks often incurred by the fast track due to burnout, injury, lack of motivation, etc.
While you may be training on your own, you are not alone! In the KPP community we are all striving for better health, and it’s a lifelong journey. Please reach out if you have questions or need support -- we are here for you! One of the variables that will ensure that you are consistent with your exercise program day in and day out is having accountability. There are a multitude of ways to incorporate accountability into your routine: adopting a training partner, becoming part of an exercise community, joining an online fitness group, playing together with your kids, etc. The best kind of accountability tool is one that you feel a connection to and a responsibility towards, in addition to yourself.
Listen to your body. The programs we create at KPP are generalized, as they need to work for many people with varying levels of strength and fitness. You know your body better than we ever could, so you should listen to yourself first. We provide recommendations, and your job is to discern whether those recommendations apply to you. As we mentioned above, the “fast track” to fitness can often lead to setbacks due to injury or burnout because the fast track encourages you to ignore your body’s messages with silly quotes like “no pain no gain”, “feel the burn”, and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. While there is truth in these adages, they are ultimately more damaging than helpful when it comes to your health. Learning to listen to what your body has to say is more important than doing what someone else is telling you is right for your body.
Process over perfection. Figuring out how to exercise in a way that honors your body and its messages is a process. Just because you have a program you’re following, doesn’t mean you have to do it perfectly. In fact, it should be done in a way that is kind to your body and allows you to explore your capabilities. Learning about yourself and your body through the process of training is more important than following the training program to a tee. The byproducts of placing process over perfection when it comes to exercise are getting in better shape, having more mobility, feeling healthier, improving self-esteem, and many more. If you are to have a goal, a worthwhile one would be developing a healthier, more loving relationship with your body rather than lifting X amount of weight, getting a six pack, or having the perfect booty.
Where the mind goes, the body will follow. Holistic health is built from the inside out. If you shift in a healthy, positive way internally, your physical body will follow suit. Adopt a kinder inner voice and develop a positive attitude toward yourself and the progress you are making. One of the most important things for setting yourself up to succeed with your exercise program is getting your mind right in regards to realistic expectations and honest assessment. Being realistic about where you are and where you want to go helps set the stage for a process-oriented journey versus an end goal destination.
Be consistent. Consistency is the key to staying healthy for the long haul. Being consistent with your exercise routine is more easily accomplished when you are held accountable to a training schedule. (If you need help with consistency, check out the Kettlebell Basics for Beginners Challenge.) Little slices of success over time trump peak experiences through PRs and big breakthroughs. While the latter feel good for the ego, they are not sustainable and it’s the little slices of success over time that create them anyway. There’s a certain point when you don’t PR anymore and “maintenance is progress” (shoutout to SDSU professor Roger Simmons for that one!). At 80 years old you’ll be happier that you consistently exercised so you can still walk than that you hit a giant PR and blew your back out.
One of the most foolproof ways to improve your health and maintain quality of life for as long as possible is to implement an exercise routine. Exercise boosts mood, increases muscle mass, improves cardiovascular fitness, enhances cognitive function, manages bodyweight, and prevents chronic diseases… to name a few. There isn’t much you can do that has a bigger benefit to your health than consistent exercise!