When it comes to fitness goals, most people have an all or nothing approach. They get really excited when they establish a fitness goal such as losing weight, running a 5K race, or increasing muscle mass for example. After a few weeks, life tends to get in the way of meeting that goal and they aren’t able to stick to the plan. Most people I know want to live healthy, but they fail because they’ve focused too much on meeting a particular outcome. They value the end result more than the journey or process of reaching that goal.
We need to approach health and fitness as a way of life and not a program goal to meet. Here’s a few positive fitness behaviors that can help us on our fitness journey in life, courtesy of the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Exercise regularly. I hear many of my previously sedentary customers tell me how great they feel after the first few weeks of exercise. They have less pain, sleep better, and have more energy in their day. We should be exercising our cardiovascular system 3-5 days per week for 20-60 minutes per day at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity level. We should be strengthening all of our muscles 2-3 non-consecutive days per week. And, we should be stretching our muscles and joints 5-7 days per week.
Moving more. I was telling a friend that when I come from work, I spend a lot of time on the floor with my dog. I play fetch with him and all his toys. My teenage kids also do this. I rarely sit on our couch or recliner. Sounds crazy, huh? But it works for me and keeping my home environment movement friendly. I also try to sit less than three hours each day. Sometimes hard to do at work if we have desk work to get done or we have long meetings. We have to intentionally get up, move and stretch.
Managing our stress and being more connected. Stress is a part of life. We have to learn how to manage our stress by setting priorities and boundaries, managing our time well, staying organized and planning ahead. We also need to take time to connect with family and friends outside of social media and get outdoors. Spiritually connecting is also very important for our good health.
Resting our body. This is tough to do in our fast-paced society. It’s great to be busy with life, but it’s also important to rest. We need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. We should take mini-breaks throughout the day and we need to plan on one day each week to rest from our exercise routine.
The fitness journey in life never ends. Learn how to enjoy the journey. Here’s to your great health.
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the March 28, 2019 edition of the Seaford Star.