When you enjoy doing something, you’re more likely to stick with it. That’s just human nature — your brain recognizes a “reward” from an action.
The same principle applies to exercise and different types of workout routines or activities. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to make it a habit and stick with a specific regimen. As a result, you can improve your health, reach certain fitness goals, and can even reduce your risk of certain diseases and ailments.
Your fitness routine should be more than just reaching an ultimate goal. Rather, it should be a journey. The only way you’ll stay on that journey is if you find ways to enjoy yourself along the way.
So let’s take a look at the health benefits of exercise, how technology can help you along your journey, and some things you can do to improve your overall fitness regimen.
Understanding the Achievements Within Your Health Journey
When many people decide to start a fitness regimen, they have specific goals in mind. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds. Maybe you want to build up stamina or be able to run a marathon. While goals can be great, they can also be overwhelming and sometimes feel too big to accomplish. As a result, it’s not uncommon for people to give up on a fitness routine almost as quickly as they start.
Instead, you can find more enjoyment in working out by focusing on the experience. If you’ve been working out for a month, do you feel any different than when you first started? Can you run farther than you could before? Maybe you don’t get as winded. Or do you feel stronger? Do you look and feel better in your clothes?
Those are victories that are important to your overall health journey, and shouldn’t be ignored. Focusing on your “wins” within your journey can make you enjoy the entire working out experience even more, and will help to make those “end goals” less intimidating.
The Health Benefits of Regular Exercise
You can also enjoy exercise more by recognizing how much it can help your mind and body. Working out is about more than just losing weight or gaining muscle. Regular exercise can benefit you in a variety of ways, including:
- Reducing your risk of heart disease
- Improving your focus
- Reducing stress
- Improving your sleep
- Reducing the risk of certain cancers
- Strengthening your bones
Exercise can even help to prevent bigger problems later in life. As you age, your risk for diseases like Type II diabetes increases. Being overweight puts you at an even greater risk. Regular exercise can help you to get rid of excess weight, and it can also help to balance out your blood sugar levels, lowering your risk for diabetes. If you already have diabetes, exercise can help you to manage it with the aid of medications like Invokana.
You don’t have to wait to start a fitness regimen, though. Unfortunately, the childhood obesity rate in the U.S. is at an all-time high, and children are at risk for diabetes, heart problems, and even mental health conditions because of an overall lack of activity. Encouraging your kids to exercise (or doing it along with them) is a great preventative health measure. If possible, try to get them outside to exercise. Studies have shown that simply being in nature can help to reduce stress levels. Plus, it gets them away from screens and digital devices that could be taking up most of their time.
The Gamification of Fitness
It’s not uncommon for people to get bored with their fitness routines after a while. It’s one of the reasons so many people quit. But, digital devices, apps, and fitness trackers can combat that boredom. Your frame of mind has a lot to do with how much you’ll put into a workout (and how much you’ll get out of it). So, by thinking of your journey as more of a “game” with incentives around every corner, you’re more likely to enjoy the competitive nature of working out and stick with it.
Fitness trackers and health-related apps are extremely popular for a reason. They can perform a variety of tasks, including:
- Counting calories
- Tracking meals
- Counting steps
- Logging workouts
- Monitoring heart rate
- Providing workout routines
- Sleep patterns
Most popular fitness apps combine both a wearable device and the app itself to log/read data. Research has shown that people who use apps like these are able to overcome barriers to exercise easier than those who don’t. Challenging your friends to beat your step score, or seeing if you can work out longer than you did the day before are just a couple of ways in which these apps create “mini-goals” for you to achieve. Once you reach them, you feel naturally rewarded and motivated to continue.
There are so many opportunities to exercise in different ways. For some people, a long run makes them happy. For others, yoga and deep breathing exercises are vital to their health. Don’t be afraid to try different activities until you find one (or a few) you really enjoy. By keeping some of these benefits in mind and even taking advantage of technology to help out, you can start to look at your fitness goals as more of a journey, and make a lifestyle change to your fitness habits, rather than just focusing on an end result.
Guest Author Bio
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori, and through her portfolio at Writer Jori Hamilton.