One of the questions we are often asked is, what is the best workout? Our answer is………the one YOU are excited about and are going to do consistently. Exercising shouldn’t be about just exercise; it should be about you participating in an activity that helps you with your cardiovascular system and you actually enjoy. Ask the doctors in our office and you will probably get a different answer. For Dr. James, going for a run means he has run over eight miles (that day) and anything under that is a light jog. Ask Dr. Benji, and he will say going to the gym and lifting weights. For me, a great workout is going for a two mile walk or jog. Recently, I started going to AKT Fullerton and doing one hour dance classes and love that work out. Each one is different, yet each workout is what we enjoy. That is what is most important.
When trying to decide what exercise program to start these are four questions you should ask yourself?
1. Do you enjoy working out by yourself or with others?
This is an important question to ask yourself. Some people are pack people when it comes to activity and love the motivation of working out with others or just enjoy the company. Others (like myself) prefer to exercise on our own. In the past, I have signed up for weekly exercise classes or group activities and before long, I have stopped attending. It took me years to realize that I just don’t enjoy working out in a group. This is where it is important to acknowledge, that is okay! Part of developing a good lifetime habit of exercising means learning from our experiences along the way. With my lifestyle, I am constantly around people, therefore, when I have time to exercise, I want to do it on my own and just have that time to listen to a book, gather my thoughts, or just clear my mind. On the flip side, if you are by yourself most of the day or most of the time or caring for your children – then you may be someone that would be more consistent with an exercise program if you had someone to share it with. If this is you, it might even be a chance to fill a social need that also gives your life a sense of balance. But don’t be shy and wait for someone to ask you to exercise. Waiting for someone to seek you out could mean delaying the positive effects of exercise for weeks or months. I recommend you reach out to a friend, family member, or spouse and ask them to join you. If that doesn’t work, start on your own but be routine about it as you may find others there at the same time, doing the same thing. Who knows, they just might be that fitness companion you’ve been hoping for.
2. How much time do you want to spend working out daily/weekly?
If I don’t have something scheduled, it normally doesn’t happen. I usually give myself a minimum of 15 minutes of physical activity per day, but I aim for at least two days a week where I exercise for 30 minutes. If scheduling your exercise time helps, get that smart phone or planner out (if you are old school like me) and block out that exercise time – be sure to set a reminder. Dr. James looks at it like a meeting. Each morning he has meeting he can’t push. He knows he is going to feel better and have a more productive day by putting his exercise first. Now if you work best when you are spontaneous about your exercise, then that works too. Here in southern California, there are so many options for fitness and exercise all year round. The key is to identify what works for YOU, which will allow you to be more consistent and thus reap health and fitness benefits.
3. Have you considered a fitness app?
Years ago, I started using a Fitbit and I have never stopped. I personally enjoy that I can get a step count, check my heart rate, and have a sleep analysis. Dr. James has been using Strava, which logs his running, paces, and routes. But these apps also provide something that may carry even more value. Community. Most of them allow you to follow and connect with others. One can not only see what others are doing by utilizing these fitness apps, but leave comments to encourage others. For the person that may be too busy for group activities, this may be the most valuable part as it allows them to still be a part of the pack.
4. When was the last time you tried something new?
Have you ever started exercising and thought to yourself, “I’m bored.” This is not uncommon and is often the result of doing the same thing every day. Imaging doing the same 8 exercises at the gym or walking the same 15 minutes stretch every day. That sounds boring. Shoot, our dogs don’t like walking the same way two days in a row. You should see how insistent they are in going a different direction. Variety is the spice of life, right? Something new could be as simple as going to a difference place or running a different street. But it could also be increasing your tempo when running, adding a personal trainer, a new workout class, or modifying your workout with something like a yoga ball. On top of that, change can be good as it will challenge your body in new ways, thus leading to more adaptation, better fitness, and improved overall health.
I encourage you to take time to answer these questions and figure out what exercise is best for you! Remember, habits aren’t formed in a day, they should become a routine. Start small and create a realistic goal for you. Start with a ten-minute walk, setting up a step goal, meeting a friend for a basketball or golf game, or try out a workout class. Summer is just about here. It is time to get up, get out, and get active!