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Getting hooked

Simple tips to start and maintain good habits

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Over the last few weeks we have established how important consistency is to maintain your health. Solidifying components of your life allows your body to optimize its function to better pursue your performance goals -- no matter what they may be. Whether you want to be a high-performance athlete or simply be able to work longer and chase your kids around without pain or fatigue, it takes practice and precision. Last time we tackled sleep; how to understand and control this life variable to better serve us. Now that your nocturnal ritual has been perfected, let's get to moving -- exercise is next on the list.

While a few of you eager people out there are looking forward to your morning workout, most of us have trouble getting there for one reason or another. We see it as a chore, a time commitment and a check-box we would rather avoid, but need to get done because for some reason we know it's good for us. Is it possible for us to shift our perception of exercise and successfully make it an enjoyable part of our routine? You may have heard some of these tips ad nauseam, but realizing how simple, routine exercise can contribute to your day-to-day health may be your key to maintaining a daily workout. You know how much exercise benefits your health, but you've had trouble stabilizing it -- it's really not that hard, nor does it take much time (only dedication), to make it a habit.


Keep it simple:

Have a daily baseline workout program. Social media has blown the top off workout sharing and basic, daily challenges. While I'll admit some of the exercises and high repetition have sullied the effectiveness of these formats -- their simplicity is their beauty. For example, every day (or at least every second day) you wake up and perform 20 squats, 20 pushups, and 20 plank-holds and repeat this circuit three times. It may only take you five minutes, but even if you miss your workout later in the day it has injected planned exercise into your routine.

Something like this should be used as a baseline, and shouldn't take the place of a more significant workout; it's your insurance, that three or five or seven days a week -- you exercised routinely. Keep it simple and short, change it every so often to avoid imbalances, and make sure the repetitions are manageable; it's a great little adjunct to your time in the gym and ensures you a sense of accomplishment.


Schedule, wisely:

You've instituted your quick little baseline workout, but now it's time to organize your actual regimen at the gym (or at home). Scheduling them in some sort of planner decreases your chances of brushing it off, and actually planning out your workout beforehand ensures you aren't wasting valuable time at the gym wandering around. Scheduling workouts early in the day as opposed to at night often means they are more likely accomplished, and if you miss a morning workout you have more time to reschedule it that same day.


Don't break

the habit:

If you have successfully instituted a workout plan, it is imperative you keep it up for four to six weeks for it to become a habit. Even if you don't really have time for a workout, head to the gym for 10 minutes and stretch briefly. If your time is extremely short, just show up and ask the staff a few questions you may have about your workout, the equipment, etc. Most of us could exercise at home, but an environment dedicated to working out without disturbances or distractions is worth $50 a month. Make that money worthwhile and go there all the time -- no matter what.


Your body relies on routine exercise to survive. Along with sleep and diet, it is one of the most modifiable variables in homeostasis/health, but even so, it is often neglected and passed over for more pressing tasks. Giving yourself a simple baseline routine requires very little time and effort, and can be a catalyst to a successful and beneficial fitness regimen. Get your rest, exercise regularly, and eat well (our next topic pertaining to routine), and realize what a rock-solid routine can do for you.


Tim Shantz is a certified athletic therapist and personal trainer. He can be reached at:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2014 D16

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