Welcome to the One Week Responsive Universe Challenge – as seen on MindBodyGreen!

We are being mindful this week about wellness as we tackle the Responsive Universe One Week Challenge. Lets talk about exercise!

Exercise is something I truly crave. I can’t run because I have a bum ankle and I can’t surf because I live in the midwest now (I used to live near the beach in California). There was a lot of ” can’ts in that sentence!  Coupled with my ego that always seems to have an excuse, exercise can be a difficult regiment to adopt. especially with busy schedules and families – when is there time?

There is always time!

For me bike riding as the answer. I ride the local forest preserve trails near my home – instead of watching TV or sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I grab the bike and go for a ride. I find it meditative and good for me… I ride about 20-30 miles a week now and I just absolutely crave it. The key was finding the right fitness program to meet my needs and schedule.

Exercise relieves stress, helps regulate weight, and improves attitude and mental clarity. Regular exercise routines enhance healthy eating habits and encourage us to stay on healthier paths. Since we feel better and look better when we exercise, we also tend to want healthier food options. If you feel like you are in a lifestyle rut, devoid of wellness, there is hope for change. Gone are the days of wanting fast food and wishing for rain so you can slump on the couch and watch TV. Instead, with the right drive and focus, you find yourself wanting a salad and anxiously awaiting a jog with your dog after work. If you’re just starting to set a new routine, don’t go out and run five miles and eat a bag of raw carrots. Instead, start small and smart. Slowly work yourself into a new lifestyle change.

Here are some helpful tips for setting up a low-impact exercise regime:

Baby steps – Try a beginner yoga or pilates class, or even walk or take a jog. Work your way slowly into a more aggressive routine. Running 10 miles your first day of exercise ensures failure and also is not healthy. Repetition and building your routine over time is what will yield results.

Commit for one month – Make a commitment to work out three days a week for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit and give you an end-goal. Once you reach your one month benchmark, be mindful of how you feel and set a new goal that builds on what you have already achieved. Then, advance to a harder exercise class; increase your speed or length in your jog or run. Maybe even pick up the next heaviest weights in the set.

Don’t quit – Most good things in life are not easy and we have to work for them. Push yourself to exercise. Push yourself to get to the gym. Push yourself to do five more minutes on the treadmill. Good things will come from this hard work.

Use exercise as stress relief – Instead of popping another anti-anxiety pill or having a glass of wine to cope with a hard day, use exercise as your new outlet. A little bit of stress and rage in a kickboxing class goes a long way.

Habits first, not exercise equipment – Purchasing expensive exercise equipment does not establish a habit for exercise. Build a routine first and then decide months later whether it’s cost effective to purchase equipment.

Get creative – There are many ways to exercise besides going to the gym. Try riding a bike, going for a hike, or doing some gardening to break up a routine that is beginning to feel monotonous. If you can turn housecleaning into cardio, then both your home and heart will benefit greatly.

Find an Exercise Buddy – Grab a friend or neighbor to join you. Adding a social aspect to exercise can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.

Isolate Your Weakness – Is adhering to an exercise regiment a losing battle for you?  Do you not enjoy exercising? Is there no time? Maybe it is feeling self-conscious at the gym? Be mindful of what is holding you back. As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.

Drink Water – It is important to stay hydrated during any exercise session.

Make it Fun – There are countless ways to exercise and have fun doing it. Maybe it is swimming, walking at sunset, entering in a jog for charity. Even watching your favorite TV show while on the treadmill. Exercise does not have to be boring.

This week I am adding Yoga to my exercise schedule as I try to challenge myself to do more!

Now it is your turn!

John C. Bader