Whether you are recovering from an injury, attempting to find a better work-life balance, or adjusting to life as a new parent, getting back into a workout routine can be a challenge. Diet, sleep, and stress management are important for gut health, mental health, and overall physical health, but regular exercise is also a key component. That’s why Ixcela provides both dietary suggestions and fitness guidelines to improve your gut microbiome.
We all struggle to find adequate time to work out, especially if you have just had a big life or schedule change. Restarting a fitness routine may seem daunting, but there are a few tricks to help you ease into it and make working out not only easier, but fun too. According to this study, it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit, so commit to just 21 days of working out and before you know it, your workout will be part of your normal routine. (1)
- Schedule workout time. Set an official time in your calendar. You wouldn't be expected to remember an important work meeting without having it in your calendar, would you? Workouts are no different. When you block the time in your calendar, there are no excuses. I find that when clients treat this time as their most important meeting of the day, they rarely reschedule. This self-care time is an investment in yourself and will be a huge benefit to your overall health.
- Find an accountability buddy. This is my best trick for helping clients get back on a workout schedule. You could have a sibling who you check in with daily or a friend who you meet at the gym or a prepaid class. Whatever it is, make sure that someone else is involved. We are less likely to skip a workout when another person is depending on us to be there. Behavior studies show that working out with a buddy greatly increases our success. (2) So, grab a friend and get started!
- Focus on consistency, not intensity. Trust me when I say that short, consistent workouts are better than overly intense, infrequent workouts. Take it slow to avoid burnout. For example, there is no need to do an intense 90-minute workout 7 days in a row. Aim for 30–45 minutes each day, at least 3 days per week, and build from there. Consistency is key when developing habits and improving our exercise regimens. Everyone is different, so be honest with yourself about your capabilities.
- Embrace workout sampling. It is important to adapt to your current life stage. For example, are you a new mom? Meet a friend every morning for a long walk outside. Did you just start a new job? Block off an extra 30 minutes during your lunch break to meet a friend for a workout class. Are you traveling a lot? Check with your hotel to see what type of neighborhood runs are scheduled. Allow your workout to fit your daily lifestyle instead of pursuing an unrealistic schedule. Flexibility is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Celebrate fitness wins along the way. When you are getting back into the swing of things and/or starting a new workout routine, it is important to acknowledge the small victories. Pick a milestone and give yourself a treat for hitting that milestone. For example, at the end of week one, treat yourself to a new workout top. At the end of month one, plan a fun night out with some friends. Use whatever drives you as motivation for the first couple of months. This will help you get into a routine and keep things exciting.
These mental and behavioral tricks will allow you to create a consistent, enjoyable workout routine that benefits your gut microbiome and your overall wellness. Once you complete the first month and exercising becomes just another part of your daily life, you will notice the physical and emotional benefits. You may even look forward to your workouts as a fun and fantastic part of your new, healthy lifestyle. The best time to start is now. What are you waiting for?
- Lally, Phillippa, et al. “How Are Habits Formed: Modelling Habit Formation in the Real World.” European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 40, 16 July 2009, pp. 998–1009., repositorio.ispa.pt/bitstream/10400.12/3364/1/IJSP_998-1009.pdf.
- Irwin, Brandon C., et al. “Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted When Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect.” SpringerLink, Springer-Verlag, 11 May 2012, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12160-012-9367-4.