I am a huge fan of exercise and fitness. On a personal level, I don’t feel right if I don’t exercise each day. My body craves movement. Some days it may simply be a walk or 10 minutes of yoga stretches, but I have to do something physical on a daily basis. I schedule exercise into my day as I would anything else.
As a health coach, I firmly believe exercise is one of the most important elements to maintain good health. Regular physical activity has numerous benefits, ranging from cardiovascular health to improved bone density to less depression. The most obvious physical benefit of exercise is weight loss/maintenance and building strength. Regular physical activity has also been found to prevent certain diseases (including cancer), improve mood, increase energy and reduce insomnia. The current exercise guidelines suggest that adults engage in moderate physical activity 2.5 hours a week, or vigorous activity 1.5 hours a week, as well as strength training twice a week.
Despite the clear benefits of exercise, many people do not include regular physical activity in their daily lives. Government reports estimate that 80% of Americans do not get enough exercise. There are numerous barriers to exercise adherence, such as time and money, but one reason that I often hear from family and friends how hard it is to find exercise that they enjoy.
I get it. I don’t like the gym. Going inside a hot, sweaty room with mirrors and getting on a machine that counts my steps and calories has never appealed to me. There are a million other things I would rather do. However, over the years, I have found exercise that I truly love. My exercise regime now includes both cardio and resistance training, along with various other types of movement that I attend classes for, or do videos of at home. I never get bored. I work my body in different ways, and am stronger than I ever was when I spent all of those days unhappy at the gym. This is what works for me.
I think its great that the government provides reasonable exercise guidelines. However, I believe that one of the best ways to overcome this barrier to exercise adherence is to find physical activity that you love. I encourage people to focus on that rather than the specific number of hours suggested by the government.
The fitness industry is booming and growing every year. Reports estimate that over 58 million Americans belong to gyms or studios. New exercise trends are constantly popping up. It’s so easy to try different types of fitness classes and exercise. Love to dance? Try a hip hop class. Like to be outside? Go for a bike ride. Have a lot of anger? Try a kickboxing class. Love the snow? Go snowshoeing or skiing. Have 3 kids? Play tag with them. Miss high school sports? Join a basketball league. Even if you are one of those people who has no interest in going to the gym, there are so many other ways to include physical activity in your life. From pole dancing to Pilates to Crossfit, there are endless choices.
I tried a few new fitness activities this past month. With the weather finally warming up in New York, I pulled out my hiking backpack and started taking my daughter hiking. I love being outside with her and showing her the woods. It’s a great workout for my legs and back.
A few weeks ago, I tried antigravity yoga with a few girlfriends. It was awesome! Antigravity yoga involves hanging from this hammock suspended from the ceiling, while doing yoga. I know it sounds kind of strange, but I really enjoyed it. The class stretched my body in different ways, and I even got to hang upside down.
This past weekend, I tried a new class called STL (Strengthen Lengthen Tone), which describes itself as a fusion between Pilates and cardio class. The purpose of the class is to strengthen, lengthen and tone your body, by using a contraption called the Megaformer, which is similar to a Pilates reformer, but a bit scarier. Wow. I could barely walk out of class. My muscles were quivering all day. Getting out of bed the next morning was tough. I don’t think that I would call the class fun, but it was an incredible workout. I will definitely be back.
For me, this is what it’s all about: trying new types of physical activity. There are so many options out there, but you need to find something that you enjoy. I love going to classes, but other people get intimidated by being in a group. I hate the gym, but I know that many love it. Everyone is different. My advice to people who are trying to include more exercise into their lives is simply this: find some type of physical activity that works for you and your body, and that is enjoyable. If you are able to do this, exercise will easily become a regular part of your life.
Becky Tountas is a certified holistic health coach and an ACE certified group fitness instructor. You can follower her blog here.