In reality, maybe that title should simply read “Making Exercise a Priority.” Every single person benefits from consistent exercise. The key is finding movement you enjoy and are willing to do regularly—that’s when you’ll notice how easy it is to maintain a commitment to healthy choices.
Want to Feel Your Best? Exercise!
In many ways, you already know this to be true. You can hardly read a magazine, website, or social media post that doesn’t discuss the benefits of regular exercise, such as naturally boosting feel-good brain chemicals, helping control blood sugar and cholesterol, improving cardiovascular health, reducing chronic pain, maintaining healthy weight, managing stress, and other positives.
However, Harvard Medical School reports that “about half of adult Americans don’t meet one of the most oft-cited guidelines, which calls for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (a fast walking pace) most days of the week—and you can accumulate that total in bouts of 10 to 15 minutes. About a quarter of American adults say they devote none of their free time to active pursuits.”
So what stops us from making the effort? Work, school, and family responsibilities, as well as “cultural attitudes and historical circumstances,” Harvard notes. Safe neighborhoods and access to certain facilities also play a part in our choice to exercise. VeryWellFit points to some other reasons people don’t exercise, including that they:
- Simply don’t enjoy it.
- Quit because they take on too much, don’t know how to properly do something, find it boring, or feel too sore to move forward after a couple of days.
- Think a gym is the only place to exercise; if they can’t afford it, they don’t look into other options.
- Don’t see the results they want quickly enough, especially if their goal is weight loss.
- Feel too stressed to exercise, especially if juggling priorities makes it more challenging to schedule time for it.
It’s natural to rationalize all these factors, but it’s critical to move beyond them to a point of acceptance, especially if you value your sobriety. Some studies indicate you’ll have greater success in recovery if you make regular exercise a priority in your life. By clarifying your body and mind through movement, you have better control over:
- Cravings and triggers
- Energy and mood fluctuations
- Nagging emotions and thoughts
- Mental health issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
How to Make Exercise a Priority
There will certainly be days when you don’t feel like getting up and working out, or you’re too tired when you get home from work. Life happens. But without a plan, some curiosity, and an attitude adjustment, it’s easy to slip into the excuses listed above. So here are some ideas on how to make exercise a priority in your life.
Schedule it, just like everything else. Start with three days a week, and make time in your schedule for 30 minutes of movement. Make it count. As you continue to progress, you can add more days, additional time, or both–but if it’s on the schedule, it’s happening.
Find a workout buddy. Whether it’s an evening walk in the neighborhood, a weight spotter at the gym, or a jogging buddy in the morning, you definitely have a friend or relative who needs your company to add to their motivation. If you have a busy family life, create physical activities that involve everyone’s participation, like hiking, playing Frisbee in the park, canoeing, or gardening.
Make movement fun. What did you enjoy most as a child? Running through the woods? Playing basketball? Jumping rope? Bicycling? Dancing? Swinging from the monkey bars at the playground? Whatever you loved then should be your first choice for exercise now so it doesn’t feel like drudgery. Pace yourself if it’s been a while since you’ve climbed a jungle gym or hit the court, but don’t be surprised if your inner child is delighted with your choice.
Workout wherever you are. In the movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone didn’t run on a treadmill, did he? If you can’t afford a gym membership, you can find free weights at a secondhand store, use benches and tree logs in the park for lunges during your walk, or follow DVD workouts at home. Even parking far from a store entrance or taking the stairs instead of an elevator helps keep you moving.
Get outside as much as you can. With an extra dose of essential vitamin D and fresh air, you’ll feel more invigorated and happy being in nature. Research indicates the more time we spend outdoors, the easier it is to relieve stress, improve our immune system, and stop brooding.
If your work is already physical, seek the opposite. If you walk or lift a lot at work, you might think you’re getting all the exercise you need. But if your back, shoulders, wrists, and hips frequently ache, this means you need to stretch, swim, or do tai chi to balance your muscle activity and help prompt more fit recovery.
Use the time to your advantage. Exercising while listening to motivational books, podcasts, and music creates a positive connection to the activity and allows you to focus on your well-being inside and out.
Staying Active at Twin Lakes
We firmly believe that to heal the mind, body, and spirit, exercise and wellness activities should be at the foundation of long-lasting recovery. On our 35-acre facility, residents enjoy everything from fishing, nature walks, and horseshoes to basketball, badminton, and volleyball. See what else we offer.