Putting It All Together
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Even positive lifestyle changes are challenging. But we see amazing people in our clinics every day, people of all ages and abilities, making astonishing strides toward fitness.
A Commitment to Exercise
Since making and keeping a lifelong commitment to an exercise program may be difficult, it’s important to look at the factors that may affect your success. One significant factor is self-efficacy, the amount of self-confidence you have in your ability to perform an activity. To determine your self-efficacy, take this quiz. Use the following scale to define how certain you are that you will fulfill your exercise commitment. If you are very uncertain, score 1 point; rather uncertain, score 2 points; rather certain, score 3 points; very certain, score 4 points.
I can exercise even when I am worried _______
I can exercise even when I feel depressed ______
I can exercise even when I feel tense ______
I can exercise even when I am tired ______
I can exercise even when I am busy ______
Your total score ______
If you scored above 10, you are ready to commit to an exercise program. If you received a score of 10 or below, starting an exercise program will be more difficult, but you can do it.
Encourage Yourself to Exercise
Starting and continuing a program requires effort. Take these hints seriously. Here are some ways to encourage yourself.
Breathe. Practice deep breathing if you feel stressed before you start exercising. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, your knees bent, and your hands resting lightly on your lower abdomen. Take a deep breath in through your nose; feel your abdomen rise as air fills your lungs. Then exhale gently through pursed lips as the air leaves your abdomen. This technique will help you relax and focus.
Post reminders to yourself. Leave notes around the house to remind you to do certain exercises or to be aware of your posture.
Picture your goals. Choose a picture of someone you admire and would like to look like or a vacation spot you would love to visit. Put it in your wallet, on your office desk, or in a place where you will see it first thing in the morning. It will remind you why your exercises are so important. Copy exercises that are particularly important for you from this book and place them strategically around your home or office.
Be patient. Don’t measure or weigh yourself too often; your body will not always change in a consistent, steady fashion.
Look in the mirror. Installing mirrors in strategic places – where you exercise, eat, dress, or bathe – may help you see the changes occurring in your body as a result of consistent exercise.
Reward yourself. Do something special for yourself as a reward for maintaining your exercise program. Rewards don’t have to be expensive or fattening! Go to a movie with a friend. Allow yourself a Saturday of relaxation rather than doing chores. Treat yourself to fresh flowers at the market. Take a long, relaxing bath. Choose a special article of clothing as an incentive to help you reach your goal.
Use visualization. Picture yourself succeeding and looking a certain way; it can facilitate your exercise performance. The more vivid the visualization, the better.
Use repetition. Develop a mantra in which you constantly repeat – out loud or in your head – the benefits of exercise (“improved posture, strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance”) especially when you don’t feel like exercising or if you feel like stopping once you’ve started. Positive reinforcement can put you back on the road to exercise. Keep telling yourself that you will look and feel better.
Make it social. Use exercise as a way to spend time with your friends and loved ones. Go for a walk together or take a bicycling vacation. Having company can be fun, reinforcing, and encouraging. If you make a commitment to exercise with someone else, you may feel a new sense of responsibility.
Have a schedule. As much as possible, exercise at the same time each day – usually the earlier the better. If you can’t exercise early, head straight to the gym after work. If you miss a scheduled time, work it in at another time during the day or week.
Make it enjoyable. Listen to music or recorded books or watch TV while exercising. Or if much of your regular day is full of people and noise, take a quiet early morning walk.
Coping with Soreness
Aches and pains due to exercise are normal. When you’re stretching muscles or moving joints that you haven’t worked in a long time, you should expect a degree of discomfort. Rest assured, you will feel better.
Typical treatments for such soreness include protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation of the affected body part, and, if necessary, an elastic wrap. You can soothe sore muscles using ice cubes and cold water in double-sealed plastic bags, a large bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel, or commercially available reusable ice packs.
While some soreness is normal with the start of an exercise program, joint pain may be a cause for concern. If your joint pain begins to ease by the end of a week, it was probably a combination of muscle soreness and a sign that you may have overworked your body. As the soreness subsides, return to the offending exercise, but only at half the weight or repetitions. Caution: If you experience severe pain that lasts several days or a more moderate pain that lasts more than 2 weeks, contact a physician or physical therapist. If you experience any chest pain or shortness of breath when performing endurance exercises, consult your physician or cardiologist immediately.
Tricking Yourself Into Fitness: Exercising on Days When Your Body Resists Some days you’re lucky if you get 15 minutes to yourself. When you don’t have time for a complete workout or you’re tempted to skip a day, try these tricks:
* Do a wall slide white you brush your teeth.
* If you live in an apartment building, walk 2 flights of stairs and then take the elevator the rest of the way.
* Use a speakerphone or headset when you talk on the phone, so that you can do arm or leg weight exercises at the same time.
* Hold a plank/push-up position for 1 minute.
* Set your watch and walk for 7 minutes, then turn around and walk back to your starting point in 7 minutes. Once you reach the 7-minute mark, you should try to extend your time.
This was the final extract from “Age-Defying Fitness” . You can buy the book from Amazon or from Peachtree Publishers.
Age-Defying Fitness: Making the most of your body for the rest of your life. 1st edition. M. Moffat, CB. Lewis, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, 2006