Stick to It!

November 15, 2016 | Patricia Wuest

Five tips to help you maintain an exercise routine

We’ve all had those moments when we’ve resolved to exercise: Sometimes, it starts with a New Year’s resolutions, or following a doctor’s visit or stepping on the scale after avoiding it. And for a few weeks, we’re consistently working out. But then for many of us, we stop, only to restart again.

Men’s Health magazine reports that the adverse effects of stopping a regular exercise program are almost immediate: “Just as a good training program builds you up, falling off the workout wagon can have the opposite effect — sometimes almost immediately.” Among the negative impacts:

1) Your blood pressure rises. Become a couch potato and your vessels respond by not functioning as efficiently. The result is elevated blood pressure.

2) Your blood sugar spikes. Eating causes your blood sugar to spike, but exercise helps your muscles and other tissues to use the sugar for energy. But just five days of skipping your workouts will cause the blood sugar levels in your body to remain elevated.

3) You will have reduced endurance. You may find yourself huffing and puffing to climb a flight of stairs when you quit working out for even just a short period of time.

4) Your strength will decrease. Quit your weight training and over several weeks’ time, you’ll find it tougher to do everyday things like lifting a heavy laundry basket or carrying bags of groceries.

5) You’ll gain weight. Exercise helps you to burn fat. It’s that simple.

While missing some days of exercise is to be expected, how can you maintain a lifestyle that includes regular workout sessions, including bicycling, swimming, weight training, yoga or even just simple walks in the neighborhood? Here are our five tips:

  • Set goals for yourself. For example, choose four days a week you’ll go to the gym or take a walk around your local park. For many people, several days a week of walking can help with weight loss, balance, and improving several health-related conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. “The faster, farther and more frequently you walk,” says the Mayo Clinic, “the greater the benefits.”
  • Find a buddy. Sharing a ride to the gym, taking a class with a friend or walking with someone you like talking to will not only help you stick to your exercise routine, it will be more fun. “The more fun your workouts are, the more you’re going to look forward to and be committed to them over the long-term,” says the website fitbodyhq.com
  • Don’t overdo it. Make sure your exercise regimen is appropriate for you and that you’re not putting yourself at risk for a serious injury. You don’t have to run a marathon, for example — walking regularly has similar aerobic and mood-boosting benefits. And don’t forget to build in days of rest. “The most rigorous training programs build in days for rest,” says fitnessandwellnessnews.com. “If you are feeling maxed out, listen to your body.”
  • Choose something you like to do. Just like eating healthy, if you don’t like your exercise routine, you’re less likely to stick to it. Choosing the best workout to achieve vitality, rejuvenation and longevity is more about understanding yourself, your lifestyle and your life responsibilities than about mastering downward dogs, spinning cycles, or completing hundreds of crunches,” writes Larry Sorokin on huffingtonpost.com. “You don’t need to prove anything to anyone else — you want something that works for you.”
  • Be patient. Sometimes, we get discouraged when we don’t see the hoped-for benefits of exercise, like toned muscles or weight loss. Stick to your plan, and trust us, in time, you’ll achieve your goals.

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