Exercising: Keeping up with your workouts

“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”

For most people, making exercise a habit is a challenge. We’ve all thought to ourselves at one point… “I haven’t been to the gym in 3 days, what’s one more day?” It seems the longer we allow ourselves to fall behind, the more behind we fall. We say we are going to stick to a rigid plan, eat healthy, and go to the gym at least 4 times a week, but it’s often easier said than done. There’s no doubt it takes will power, but there are things you can do to make working out easier.

First of all, how often should we really be working out?

It’s certainly not easy to go from no days a week to 6 days a week, and this may be unrealistic for many people. However, the truth is that the more frequent – the better. Of course, it’s better to establish a routine than to just go whenever you have time. For example, a realistic routine would be to go every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work. Bring your gym clothes with you to work/school/etc., so that you can’t make excuses for yourself when you get off. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves to NOT think, and just DO. You know you need to go the gym, so don’t allow yourself time to ponder over it and make excuses for yourself.

Researchers have found, study after study, that one of the main reasons people continue their exercise routines is because they enjoyed their workout the day before. They enjoy the lingering feelings of exertion and even soreness from the previous workout, causing them to want to relive those sensations. Not to mention, you just feel better about yourself when you know you’re taking steps to become healthier. This is why those longer periods between exercising can dull that enthusiasm and people then fall back into their old lazy ways. Dr. Michael Joyner recommends not missing more than two days in a row, stating that only missing one day is preferable.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you don’t have to go to the gym to workout. This leaves us within even less room for excuses! Combine activities with things YOU enjoy doing! Try walking with a friend, bicycling, playing tennis, swimming, going for a 30 minute jog, or even doing squats while you watch TV. When you commit to exercising with another person, you are less likely to let yourself (and the other person) down. If you’re able to, you can even break your workouts up. Try taking three 10 minute walks a day, instead of one 30 minute walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away in the parking lot, and walk wherever you can. And yes, these steps – no matter how small they may be – do make a difference over time.

There is also evidence that shows that the risk of injury rises with less frequent exercise sessions. After multiday layoffs, especially in well-refined activities, injury rates increase. This is why it’s important to not over train or over-exert specified areas of the body too soon. For example, if you have recently picked up kick boxing, you need to allow your body the time it needs to build up muscle in your calves and hamstrings. There’s no need to rush your body into expert level, which is the best way to get injured. Be careful, and listen to your body when it’s telling you no. Even when your muscles are doing their job, your joints could be dysfunctional – which can throw off your entire body.

Did you know that a chiropractor specializes in maintaining joint health and function?

Seeing a chiropractor can greatly decrease your risk of injury when starting up a new exercise routine. Getting a thorough examination will help ensure that your musculoskeletal system and range of motion are both functioning at 100%. A chiropractor works to prevent future injuries, and making sure your body is in alignment is one of the best ways to ensure this. Many chiropractors also specialize in orthotics – which are important in making sure your feet are giving you the proper support and protection that your entire body needs. If you are experiencing any constant pain and are still pushing through your workouts, do not hesitate to get it checked out! Don’t ignore your symptoms, and help avoid future injury.