Exercise gives me more than a toned, strong body. If I am feeling down, exercise lifts my mood. If I am feeling tired, it gives me energy that I’ve found to be truly addictive. I also find that good, consistent exercise makes me more realistic and accepting of things I don’t like about myself. It is as much for my mind as for my body.
I try to exercise at least five times a week. That can mean walking for fifteen minutes, or it can mean a serious, ninety-minute aerobics class. I make it a point to vary what I do so I don’t get bored. We all have good excuses for why we don’t exercise. In my life, I have attempted to face all my excuses and find solutions by creating different fitness options for different situations. If it’s a choice between spending time on my body or spending time with my children, I use my baby jogger and no one loses out. If being strong and fit is a priority in your life, no matter how busy you are, you can find time for it.
Gyms: Find a stretching, toning, yoga, or aerobics class at a gym. Vary the kind of class that you take to keep yourself interested. The very presence of other students will motivate you. (Kids are not an excuse. If you have small children, find a gym that has child care or baby-sitting.)
If you use machines, vary your workout by switching aerobics machines, or try doing a circuit, i.e., eight to ten minutes each on three or more types of machines that require different kinds of movement (treadmill, bicycle, cross-country ski machine, and StairMaster, say). The time flies, and it’s a lot more fun. Below are, some of my favorite exercise options. Walking/Running: Walking and running are by far the most convenient forms of exercise.
Try varying distances and routes to keep yourself interested. If you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, set out your complete workout outfit from athletic shoes to cap the night before. I find that the hardest part is sometimes just getting dressed. Once I do that, I will definitely do the workout.
If you live in a cold (or extremely warm) climate, you might explore indoor walking at your local mall. Many malls even have walking clubs and open their doors early for the convenience of the walkers.
Jumping Rope: Jumping rope is an amazing aerobic activity. Try to keep movement controlled and small like a boxer would jump rope. Work up to 100 jumps. (Be sure to stretch your calves afterward.)
Doing the Stairs: Going up and down my home stairs (two at a time) ten to twenty times is great exercise. You can also use the stairwell in your apartment building or gym.
Personal Trainers: Having a trainer come to your home effectively eliminates most exercise excuses. If you can afford this option, interview several trainers to find one you really like. Or, on a one-shot basis, ask a trainer to create an exercise program tailored for you and your lifestyle. Videos: A great at-home exercise option. Doing the same tape again and again wouldn’t work for me, so I try to vary their content. Choices include aerobic dance, weight training, yoga, and stretching.
Weight Training: Be sure that weight-bearing movement is a part of your exercise routine. Doing a series of exercises with light hand weights will define muscles (it will not bulk you up as so many women fear). It can improve your posture and help build bone density, which, in turn, prevents osteoporosis.