Just the thought of working out can often be stressful. Deciding to join a gym or studio comes with membership costs, commitment, and a new schedule to juggle. Working out at home may require less time from you schedule but may also come with an investment that stares back at you each time you walk by.
Three years ago, I graduated with an Executive MBA after two years of juggling a crazy course-load, career, and family. I had gained 20 pounds from sitting to study 4 hours before a 10-hour workday, and an early onset osteoarthritis diagnosis meant not only needing to lose weight but also build muscle quickly to support my joints and prevent future damage. No pressure for someone still in her thirties. My doctor’s orders were to start walking each day and try yoga 3-5 days a week. Oh, and the stress from the last several years were taking a toll on other parts of my body, so the third order was to cut down my stress levels. I wanted to laugh… and cry, but three years of evolving my active yet lower-stress lifestyle have made me thankful everything hit at once. By requiring that every new choice to be active also reduce stress, the new routine became a reward in and of itself.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Before you get too caught up cramming as many calories burned within your allotted time, ask yourself what about this workout appeals to you. Want to take up yoga? Why? If it’s to reduce stress, maybe think twice before trying the HIIT class or pick one calmer yoga class to finish out the work week. Love going for walks or runs in a gorgeous park? Take a few minutes to soak in the scenery before you hop into the car and leave.
Need to build muscle and get in some cardio? A gym routine easily gives you both, but that isn’t your only option. Consider trading off cardio days versus high-impact days or split the type of workout within the day itself. I found that a fast-paced 30-minute walk is a great way to start the day with energy, while ending the day with a slower but difficult yoga session.
Love the idea of hiking but don’t have that kind of time every day? Replace a weekday walk or run for a longer weekend hike. A routine doesn’t mean you’re doing the same exact thing every day. It merely means automating this part of your day to avoid the added stress of determining what you’ll do and when. With that said, your weekday routines are typically different that weekend routines, so be flexible and adapt your workouts to these different routines.
For those who know me, Think Weekends are a vital part of my lower-stress lifestyle. I can always work in a 3-day weekend to rest, recharge, and reflect on what is most important, but it also helps to slow down and listen to your body and not always in a 30-minute or one-hour time box. During my first Think Weekend, I ended up on an extended walk with my first hike in a decade and fell in love. Although my heels weren’t keen on longer walks, the hike used new muscle groups that weren’t already injured, and I came home focused on finding a similar elevated hike in the area.
It isn’t just about taking an entire 3-day weekend to discover what works best for you. Starting a new exercise routine can sometimes lead to injuries when you push yourself a bit too far or just sleeping wrong can tempt you to skip that session. Instead, adapt the session based on what you need that day. For those taking up a new routine at home, try Yoga with Adriene. The site not only promotes a new session each day but also features targeted short sessions to stretch out injured or stiff areas. It even explores sessions to work through stress, loss, and other emotions.
As you partake in this new adventure, share it. Whether it’s using Activity notifications to let your friends and family encourage you along the way or checking in on Facebook, share the experience with others and encourage others who might be looking for ideas. Most studios have a free pass for guests, and you’ll find that bringing along a friend isn’t just holding you accountable but also encourage another.