Achieving truly good health, fitness, and mental well-being typically requires a change in one’s overall lifestyle. Hence, each individual should understand that their path to good health and fitness will not only be unique to themselves, but that their lifestyle change will take time, discipline and effort as well.
This being said, it is important that each individual create the appropriate physical and mental environment prior to embarking on a health and fitness routine to increase their probability of successfully obtaining their personal fitness goals. While it may be true that the path to good health and fitness requires time, effort and discipline, the health benefits – both physically and mentally – will always outweigh the effort.
While many individuals think that the changes required to live a healthy lifestyle are difficult and unsustainable; the truth is that they are actually closer than they think.
In fact, most individuals only need to make a few minor changes to their daily lives to begin living a lifestyle that is focused on good health and fitness. Once an individual has made the decision to take a more active approach to their physical and mental well-being, maintaining their focus and motivation may sometimes be difficult to sustain. The intent of this article is to provide several tips and techniques designed to improve an individual’s motivation, focus and discipline towards obtaining their personal fitness goals.
In summary, virtually any individual can implement the following tips and techniques into their personal fitness routine to improve their chances at achieving a lifestyle that is filled with good health and mental well-being.
- Define and write down a realistic set of personal health and fitness goals.
- Maintain a high level of variety in your fitness routine.
- Start slowly and monitor your fitness progress.
- Choose fitness activities that are enjoyable.
- Take periodic breaks as you continue down the path to a healthy and fit lifestyle.
- Include a workout partner in your fitness and nutritional routines.
- Have fun and reward yourself when you achieve a short-term or long-term goal.
Define and Write Down Goals
Defining and setting goals associated with your personal fitness is an important first step. By taking the time to determine your actual health and fitness goals prior to embarking on a fitness and nutritional routine, you will create a routine that is specific and designed to meet your exact set of goals.
It is highly recommended that you set not only short-term goals, but long-term goals as well. Both short-term and long-term goals should be clearly written and have an associated obtainment date.
In addition, you should record the actual date when each goal is accomplished. By doing so, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, encouragement that you can obtain the longer-term goals, and a renewed vigor to continue working towards your longer-term goals.
Finally, it is important to reward yourself along the way as you accomplish the shorter-term goals, This will enhance your sense of accomplishment and provide reassurance that you can achieve all of your personal fitness goals.
Add Variety to Your Fitness Routine
It is important to periodically vary your fitness activities. First, by varying your fitness routine you will create an environment where your body is constantly trying to evolve to a state where it can more easily accomplish the fitness routines that you are forcing it to perform.
If you enjoy running, then be sure to vary the locations where you run. For example, if you currently perform a running routine four times per week you may want to run at a park with a set course twice a week, and around your neighborhood on two other days of the week.
By varying the locations where you run, you will prevent your body from getting used to the demands that each course imposes (i.e. one course has more hills, while the other offers more technical terrain). Second, by varying your fitness routine you will be consistently introducing new movements that require coordination and balance, new strength requirements, and new endurance requirements that will force your body to improve its condition and capability.
This approach is commonly referred to as cross training, and has been scientifically proven to be more effective than repeating the same fitness routine over and over.
For example, an individual may begin a fitness routine where they perform aerobics three times a week and weight training twice a week. After four weeks they may change their fitness routine to biking twice a week, running once a week and weight training twice a week with a new set of exercises.
Third, by regularly varying your fitness routine you will be constantly performing new physical activities that will minimize the boredom associated with performing the same tasks over and over. You’ll be constantly challenging yourself to learn new exercise routines and new types of physical movements.
In addition, the variety in exercise types will exercise the muscle groups from different angles and combine different combinations of muscle groups. This technique is called muscle confusion and is ideal for keeping the muscles off balance and in a continual state of development. For instance, the muscles exercised by obtaining a cardiovascular workout through biking are different than the muscles that are used when obtaining a cardiovascular workout through swimming.
Every individual’s workout routine should periodically change over time. By doing so, you will increase your level of motivation, decrease your level of boredom, and add to the diversity of your fitness lifestyle.
Start Slowly and Monitor Your Progress
Many individuals try to implement a fitness routine that is simply too demanding for the current condition of their body. This approach typically leads to frustration and quitting the workout routine altogether. This approach also increases an individual’s mental belief that they cannot accomplish their personal fitness goals and leads to lower self-esteem. Hence, it is important to begin a fitness routine slowly when you have been inactive for a relatively long period of time. By starting your exercise routine at a slower pace, you will allow your body to adjust to the new physical requirements you are placing on it. More specifically, you will allow your cardiovascular system, muscles, ligaments and tendons to develop at a rate that is less conducive to injury.
As you are able to increase the duration of your cardiovascular exercises (e.g. biking, running, swimming, etc.) or strength if weight training, you will gain confidence and naturally increase the intensity and duration of your fitness workouts.
Pushing yourself too hard when first starting a fitness routine can be very discouraging. You will be asking your body to perform tasks that it hasn’t performed in a long time, and this can result in your body being very sore. It is at this point that many individuals get discouraged and quit their exercise routine, or injure themselves. It is important to remember that just because you are starting out slowly, allowing your body to adjust to your exercise routine, it does not mean that you will be unable to achieve your personal fitness goals within the timeline you have specified. In fact, the human body is incredibly resilient, and you will be amazed at how quickly your body responds to the physical demands you place on it through your exercise routine.
Choose Fitness Activities that are Enjoyable
It is important to remember that good health and fitness is a lifelong endeavor, and that exercising for the long-run is what is truly important. In other words, it would not make sense to improve your physical condition over a six-month period and then quit. While the human body is able to adapt quickly to the demands of a new fitness routine, it is equally quick to revert back to a condition of poor health and fitness in the absence of any exercise.
This being said, it is beneficial to choose physical activities that you enjoy. For instance, if you enjoyed swimming when you were younger, then you may want to consider adding swimming to your fitness routine. It’s important to keep an open mind and try several different types of exercise routines. Don’t be afraid to try a large array of exercise types, and thereafter determine which types you enjoy the most.
Take Periodic Breaks
It is important to remember to take breaks, both during your specific workout and over time. The highest frequency of injury occurs when the individual is physically exhausted, mentally exhausted or both. When interval training, be sure to take the appropriate amount of time to allow your body to recover before proceeding with the remainder of your workout.
It is also important to allow your body to recover from the stress that the workout has placed on it. For example, if weight training, you will not want to work the same muscle group any more often than every 48 hours. The components of the human body need time to recover, and you are the best judge of how long this process takes based on your level of fatigue and soreness in a given muscle group. If you are feeling particularly tired on a given day, it may be best to skip your workout and resume as scheduled on the following day. Don’t get in the habit of skipping workouts unless you’re especially fatigued, such as the day after an endurance competition.
Enlist a Workout Partner
Another tip for maintaining a high level of fitness motivation is to perform your exercise routines with a workout partner. There are several benefits associated with exercising with a workout partner. First, a workout partner will challenge you to perform at a higher level, especially if you both begin at approximately the same fitness level, or if your partner is in a slightly more advanced state of physical conditioning.
Second, a workout partner will assist in creating a greater level of consistency. If you incorporate a workout partner into your exercise routine, then you will have to schedule the times when you are both going to work out together. By doing so, you have made a commitment to one another. Studies have shown that individuals are more apt to complete a task if they have made a commitment to doing so. Hence, it’s human nature: if you have made a commitment to exercise with your workout partner after work at 6:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you’ll be more likely to stick to your commitment than if you did it alone.
Third, most individuals that exercise with a partner enjoy a greater diversity in the types of exercise routines they perform. This is often due to the fact that your workout partner may enjoy a different set of exercise types and be more willing to try an exercise type that neither of you have ever tried. In addition, by exercising with a workout partner, you may be more apt to try new forms of exercise simply because you have a partner that will try them with you. Either way, including a workout partner in your exercise routine is a great way to stay motivated, try new forms of exercises, and create an environment where both of you are consistent in your exercise routines.
Above all, the most important ingredient to successfully embarking on a lifelong path to good health and mental well-being is that the fitness lifestyle that you choose be enjoyable. Most individuals, unless forced, will discontinue the majority of tasks that they dislike. By taking the time to determine the specific types of exercise that you enjoy, you will create an exercise routine that you find yourself looking forward to. This fact alone will dramatically improve the probability of you achieving all of your personal fitness goals.
By choosing physical activities that you enjoy, you will find that you actually look forward to exercising, and that good health and fitness can really become a part of your lifestyle – not only for today, but for tomorrow as well.
Maintaining a high level of motivation towards physical exercise can be one of the most difficult aspects of staying on a fitness routine. The intent of this article is to provide a few tips and techniques that can be readily implemented into anyone’s fitness lifestyle.
It is important to remember that good health, fitness and mental well-being is a lifelong journey and that there are very few shortcuts.
In summary, the keys to good health and fitness are consistency, an open-mindedness towards new forms of exercise, a nutritious dietary regime, a positive attitude, mental stability, and a passion for life.