It’s not always easy to maintain an exercise routine. With busy work schedules, long commutes, and family commitments, keeping up with regular exercise can be difficult at times. So what steps can you take to make it a little easier?
In addition to the challenges posed by hectic schedules, we often do things to make it more difficult for ourselves than it has to be. Sometimes, we’re sabotaging our workout routines without even realizing it. Here are a few things you might be doing that make it more difficult for you to maintain a regular exercise regimen.
1. Lack of regularity
One of the easiest ways to make sure you get your workout in each day is to make it a regular part of your daily routine. That means exercising at the same time each day, and allowing yourself enough time for exercise. This doesn’t mean you need to schedule hours at the gym every day. Just a 20-minute walk or jog can go a long way. So, try setting your alarm 20 minutes earlier in the morning and going on your walk at the same time each day. Eventually, walking will become just another part of your daily schedule, like brushing your teeth or showering. Or if you’re not a morning person, make sure to schedule your walk at the same time each evening, and treat it with the same importance you’d give to any other appointment.
2. Pushing too hard
We can all get a little overzealous with our workouts, and it’s tempting to push yourself to the limit in order to get a closer to your fitness goals. But this can actually set you back. Pushing your body this hard can lead to injuries that can take you out of the game for extended periods of time and wreck your momentum. And even if you don’t injure yourself, being this intense with your workout can lead to psychological burnout. Stressing yourself like this can sap all of the joy right out of your exercise routine, and can make it mentally more difficult to keep going. So although it can be tempting to skip your off days and just keep pushing, taking a break now and then is important both for your body and your mind.
3. Lack of variety
While consistency is important in terms of the time of day that you workout – that is, making your workout a regular part of your daily routine — variety can be important, as well, in terms of the type of workout you do. Try changing up your jogging or walking route. Or try a different type of workout. Maybe try using a resistance band or doing some yoga poses — both exercises you can do at home. Create a new playlist to listen to while you’re exercising, or consider working out with a buddy a couple times a week. Whatever you can do to keep your workouts fun and enjoyable will be helpful. Doing the same workout day after day can get boring, and that can destroy your motivation.
4. Overworking muscle groups
Another reason that variety is important is that working the same muscle groups over and over can lead to imbalances and injuries. So when possible, try to alternate between upper body and lower body workouts. Trainers also often recommend opposing exercises within the same workout — for example, following bench presses with rows. Not only will this help you to avoid injuries, it’s also more likely to help you achieve the results you’re looking for in terms of building muscle, and that in turn can help encourage you to keep going.
These days, we’re constantly connected. And that can be great in a lot of ways, but it can also get in the way of our workouts. Responding to texts and social media notifications can pull us away from our workouts. And if we only have, say, 20 minutes for exercise each day, spending five of those minutes on our phones can have a real impact over time. If you listen to music on your phone while you’re working out, that’s great — but if you find yourself frequently being distracted by texts, Tweets and Facebook messages, try putting your phone on airplane mode while you’re exercising.
6. Copying other people
It’s easy to see someone who’s in great shape at the gym and conclude that, if you do the same exercises they’re doing, you’ll see the same results. Or to copy the exercises you see trainers and fitness models doing on YouTube for similar reasons. But the reality is, we each have unique bodies with unique needs. What worked great for that woman with the six-pack you saw at the gym last week might not work well for you at all. And by the same token, a workout that gives you great results might not be as effective for others. So it’s about listening to your body, and paying attention to what seems to be giving you results and what doesn’t. There’s no need to compare yourself to others. If you’re not sure what exercises would be best for you, consider working with a trainer.
7. Missing sleep
As we all know, when we’re lacking sleep, it can be difficult to muster the motivation to hit the gym. Especially if you typically workout in the morning, it can be very tempting to hit the snooze and sleep for another 20 minutes, rather than get up and exercise. And what’s more, losing sleep can result in a decrease in the hormone that related to protein synthesis and muscle recovery after stress, including exercise. So if you’re not getting enough sleep, your workouts will be less effective, and you’ll find it more difficult to build muscle.
With our hectic, day-to-day lives, it can be challenging to maintain a regular workout routine. But we don’t need to make it harder for ourselves than necessary. If any of the above scenarios sound familiar to you, there are steps you can take to stop sabotaging your workout, and to make it easier on yourself to stay healthy — starting today.
— Sarah Cooke