Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Sane & Satisfied Way to Exercise

One of the tenants of Sane & Satisfied is that we are all individuals and just because a plan works for one person doesn't mean that it's the best plan for someone else. That tenant can be no truer for exercise.

Here on the Sane & Satisfied Blog I try to teach and encourage you to find your own way of doing things. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain confidence, eat healthier or learn a new language you have a unique way of learning things. You also have your own unique set of motivations and inspirations to keep you going.

Exercise has become an extremely confusing and fuzzy endeavor. There are exercise gurus who say you should exercise right when you wake up. There are some who say long periods of exercise are best and others who say you only need 15 minutes a day.

I've read about and tried many exercise programs. Even though each one is different and has a different theme they all have a couple main points in common:
1. Regular movement is good.
2. Schedule this regular movement into your day.
3. Pick a movement that you enjoy doing.
4. Incorporate variety into your regular movement including cardio and strength training.
5. Drink lots of water.
6. Stretch.

I might be missing some points but that's basically the idea of a successful exercise program.

The reason we choose to follow an exercise program is because it's easier to just follow someone else than it is to figure out that stuff for ourselves. There are a lot of questions when considering a custom exercise plan. What sort of movement should we do? When should we schedule our regular movement? How much movement should we participate in? It can become a tad bit overwhelming.

Planning your own Custom Exercise Program may seem daunting at first but you will have more success with an exercise routine you prepare yourself because it will come out of your unique situation. Instead of simply following someone else's plan and just blindly doing what they say you will be consciously engaged in making your exercise plan work for you. The more you are engaged and invested the easier it will be to stick with the plan.

How to Prepare Your Custom Exercise Program

Here is a series of questions to help you plan your own unique exercise program. Take some time to really think about yourself, your life, your time and your resources. These questions are only to help you get started. You might find the need to tweek your program after you've done it for a few days or weeks. This is completely fine.

What are your exercise goals? The rest of your answers to the questions below will be based on this one answer. Are you training for something? Do you want to improve your flexibility or your stamina? Do you want to lose x number of pounds or do you just want to maintain your weight? Understanding what your unique needs are will greatly help you stay on track and get results.

What sorts of activities do you enjoy doing? Regular movement can take many forms. I enjoy walking, yoga and using the strength training machines at the YMCA. I also enjoy being outside and swimming. You may like playing basketball or kayaking or ballet. Write down all the activities that you wouldn't mind waking up early for. Your exercise program should be made up of these things.

Do you like things all laid out or are you a spontaneous kind of person? Or maybe you are somewhere in between. I'm in between meaning I like some stability but I don't like it when every little thing is set in stone. Understanding what kind of person you are will help when you schedule out your exercise plan later.

How often are you going to participate in your chosen movement? The general consensus seems to be that you should exercise most days of the week. So that mean plan to exercise at least 4 or 5 days each week. Depending on your goal you may exercise more vigorously for 4 days or more laid back for 5 or 6 days. Your exercise plan could also fall somewhere in between. Sometimes I like to break up my exercise. I'll do yoga in the morning and go for a walk at lunch and maybe even do an exercise class at night. Make sure you pick a time and frequency that works for you. For instance, I get stir crazy around lunch time so getting outside for a short walk really helps my concentration later in the day. Plan your exercise to work for you, not against you.

What questions do you have? Just because you are following your own exercise plan doesn't mean you have to figure it all out by yourself. There are many people who study things like calories, exercise and the human body who could give you information about specific questions you may have. For instance it might be good to have an estimate of how many calories a particular exercise burns or what is the proper way to do a Downward-Facing Dog. You don't have to drop everything to study exercise and nutrition in order to be healthy and lose weight. You just need to know where to go to answers to your questions.

After you've thought about these questions and written down your answers and notes get out your calendar! I use the calendar on Outlook because I can move things around and it's faster to schedule recurring activities. But whatever type of calendar you use is fine.

Now, based on the answers to the above questions start writing down when you are going to exercise and what specific type of exercise you plan to do. Some people alternate between cardio and strength training which can result in shorter exercise periods. Others like to do cardio and strength training in the same session every other day. Still others, like me like exercises that combines cardio with strength training. So take that into consideration when you schedule out your program.

In the interest of talking too much about this I'm going to stop here. I greatly welcome your comments on this. I can't think of everything so it helps to know what questions you have and what ideas you've come up with for your program that might help someone else with theirs.

Here's to a more happy and healthy (and limber) body!

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