Grow Younger, Live Longer
In a nutshell
- Exercise consistency is the key that unlocks these remarkable rewards. It’s not about sporadic bursts of activity or short-term fitness fads. It’s about creating lasting habits that become an integral part of your lifestyle.
- By establishing a sustainable workout routine, you can enjoy a myriad of health benefits, including increased life expectancy, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced strength and flexibility, and a sharper mind.
- In this article, we’ll delve into the world of exercise consistency and provide you with practical tips on how to establish a sustainable workout routine. From cardio to strength training, flexibility to balance exercises, we’ll guide you on incorporating each of the four pillars of longevity exercise into your daily life.
Physical activity is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being. Regular exercise has been linked to a range of benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, stronger bones and muscles, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.1Wang Y, Ashokan K. Physical Exercise: An Overview of Benefits From Psychological Level to Genetics and Beyond. Front Physiol. 2021 Aug 12;12:731858. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.731858. PMID: 34456756; PMCID: PMC8397487. PubMed Source Despite these well-documented benefits, many people struggle to establish a sustainable workout routine.
In this article, we will provide you with practical tips on how to establish and maintain a consistent exercise routine that can help you enjoy long-lasting health benefits.
The Importance of Exercise Consistency
Before delving into the practical tips for establishing an exercise routine, it is important to understand why consistency is so crucial. Consistency has a direct impact on the health benefits you derive from exercise. The health benefits of exercise are cumulative and consistent engagement in physical activity yields maximum health benefits.2 Shortreed SM, Peeters A, Forbes AB. Estimating the effect of long-term physical activity on cardiovascular disease and mortality: evidence from the Framingham Heart Study. Heart. 2013 May;99(9):649-54. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2012-303461. Epub 2013 Mar 8. PMID: 23474622. PubMed Source
Consistent exercise leads to a wide range of positive changes in the body due to adaptions happening in organs and tissues.3 CDC Report. Chapter 3. Physiologic responses and long-term adaptations to exercise Source These changes occur at various levels, including cardiovascular, muscular, skeletal, metabolic, and mental health. Here are some of the main changes observed in the body with consistent exercise:
- Improved cardiovascular health. Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, increases cardiac output, and improves circulation. It can lower resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol profiles, leading to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
- Increased muscular strength and endurance. Consistent exercise, particularly strength training, promotes muscle growth and enhances muscular strength and endurance. This results in improved performance during physical activities, increased ability to perform daily tasks, and reduced risk of age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia).
- Enhanced bone health. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and weightlifting, stimulate bone remodeling and increase bone density. Consistent exercise helps to build and maintain strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Weight management. Regular exercise contributes to weight management by burning calories and improving metabolic rate. Combining exercise with a balanced diet can aid in weight loss, weight maintenance, and the prevention of obesity.
- Improved metabolic health. Exercise plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism. It enhances insulin sensitivity, promotes glucose uptake by muscles, and helps manage blood sugar levels. Consistent exercise can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve overall metabolic health.
- Enhanced brain function and mental health. Exercise has positive effects on brain health and cognitive function. It increases blood flow to the brain, promotes the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones), and improves mood and mental well-being. Regular exercise has been linked to reduced risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
- Better sleep quality. Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration. Physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns, promote relaxation, and alleviate symptoms of insomnia.
- Strengthened immune system. Moderate-intensity exercise has been found to boost the immune system, reducing the risk of certain diseases and infections. Regular physical activity can enhance the body’s ability to fight off pathogens and maintain overall immune function.
So, exercise consistency is the backbone of a successful fitness journey. But how can you establish and maintain that consistency? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In the following sections, we will share valuable tips and strategies to help you establish a sustainable workout routine, overcome challenges, and make exercise an enjoyable and integral part of your daily life.
Tips for Establishing a Sustainable Workout Routine
Set realistic goals
Setting realistic goals is the first step in establishing a sustainable exercise routine. It is important to start with small, achievable goals that can be gradually increased over time. For example, you might start by aiming to exercise for 20 minutes, three times a week and gradually increase the duration and frequency of your workouts.
Choose activities you enjoy
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, enjoying the type of activity you do is a key factor in long-term adherence to exercise.4 Teixeira PJ, Carraça EV, Markland D, Silva MN, Ryan RM. Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: a systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Jun 22;9:78. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-78. PMID: 22726453; PMCID: PMC3441783. PubMed Source Whether it’s swimming, dancing, or hiking, find an activity that you love and make it a regular part of your routine.
Schedule your workouts
Just like any other appointment or commitment, scheduling your workouts can help ensure that you make time for them. Whether you prefer to exercise in the morning, afternoon, or evening, find a time that works for you and make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.
Find a workout buddy
Exercising with a friend or family member can provide added motivation and accountability. Not only will you have someone to encourage and support you, but you will also be less likely to skip workouts when you know someone is counting on you.
Mix it up
Doing the same workout day in and day out can quickly become monotonous. To avoid boredom and keep things interesting, mix up your workouts by trying new activities or incorporating different types of exercise, such as strength training or yoga.
Monitor your progress
Tracking your progress can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Whether it’s tracking your steps with a fitness tracker or recording your workout times in a journal, monitoring your progress can help you see how far you’ve come and inspire you to keep pushing yourself.
Make it a habit
According to the research, the process of forming a new habit can vary in duration, ranging from 18 to 254 days. On average, it takes approximately 66 days for a newly adopted behavior to become automatic and ingrained as a habit. 5 Lally, Phillippa et al. “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.” European Journal of Social Psychology 40 (2010): 998-1009. Source 6Keller J, Kwasnicka D, Klaiber P, Sichert L, Lally P, Fleig L. Habit formation following routine-based versus time-based cue planning: A randomized controlled trial. Br J Health Psychol. 2021 Sep;26(3):807-824. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12504. Epub 2021 Jan 6. PMID: 33405284. Source This seems like a long time, but there are some tips on how to transform exercise into a habit. In fact, this is so important that let’s focus on this in more detail and see how you can create habits.
The Importance of Creating a Habit for Exercise Consistency
Creating a habit around exercise is essential for achieving long-term exercise consistency. When exercise becomes a habit, it becomes a natural and effortless part of your daily routine. When exercise becomes a habit, you no longer have to rely on motivation or willpower to get yourself moving.
Start small and build gradually
Embarking on a full-hour workout may feel overwhelming and deter you from incorporating exercise into your routine. However, starting with achievable goals that seamlessly fit into your daily life is the key. Consider committing to a 10-minute walk every morning or engaging in a short home workout three times a week. As you establish the habit, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercises. By taking small steps, you’ll build momentum.
Choose a specific time and make it non-negotiable
Designate a specific time each day for your exercise routine. Whether it’s early morning, during lunch breaks, or in the evening, make it a non-negotiable appointment with yourself. Treat it as an important commitment that you cannot skip unless absolutely necessary.
Use cues and reminders
Incorporate cues and reminders into your daily life to prompt you to exercise. For instance, lay out your workout clothes the night before, place your exercise equipment in a visible area, or set reminders on your phone or calendar. These visual and auditory cues can serve as powerful triggers to reinforce your exercise habit.
Be flexible and adaptable
Life can sometimes throw curveballs, causing disruptions to your routine. Embrace the idea of flexibility and adaptability. If you miss a workout, instead of dwelling on it, find ways to get back on track quickly. Modify your routine as needed to accommodate changes in your schedule or circumstances, but always prioritize consistency.
With a few simple tips, you can create habits of regular exercise that will transform your well-being. To fully benefit from your consistent exercise routine, it’s important to ensure it is well-rounded and encompasses the four pillars of longevity exercise: cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance. By incorporating exercises from each of these pillars, you’ll maximize the health benefits and enjoy a holistic approach to fitness.
Tips for Incorporating Exercises from the Four Pillars of Longevity Routine
Each pillar contributes to overall fitness and well-being in its own unique way. Here are some tips on how to incorporate exercises from each pillar into your workout routine.
Aerobic exercises (or cardio)
Cardio exercises are essential for improving heart health, increasing stamina, and burning calories. Here are a few tips for incorporating cardio exercises into your routine:
- Walking or jogging. Take a brisk walk or jog around your neighborhood for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. You can gradually increase the duration or intensity as your fitness level improves, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.
- Cycling. Whether outdoors or on a stationary bike, cycling is an excellent low-impact cardio exercise. Consider incorporating cycling into your routine a few times a week by cycling to work or grocery.
- Jump rope. Incorporate 10 minutes of jump rope exercises into your routine. It’s an effective and portable cardio workout that can be done indoors or outdoors.
Strength training helps build muscle, increase bone density, and improve metabolism. Here are some tips for incorporating strength training exercises:
- Bodyweight exercises. Incorporate exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks into your routine. These exercises use your body weight for resistance and can be done anywhere.
- Resistance training. Utilize resistance bands or dumbbells to perform exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses, and chest presses. Gradually increase the resistance as you build strength.
- Weight machines. If available, incorporate weight machines at the gym into your routine. They provide targeted resistance training for specific muscle groups.
Flexibility exercises improve joint mobility, prevent muscle imbalances, and reduce the risk of injuries. Here’s how to incorporate flexibility exercises:
- Stretching. Perform dynamic stretches before your workout to warm up the muscles, and static stretches after your workout to improve flexibility. Focus on major muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, chest, and shoulders.
- Yoga or Pilates. Once a week, join a yoga or Pilates class that emphasizes stretching and flexibility. These activities also provide benefits for balance and relaxation. You can increase it to two times once you build the habit.
Balance exercises help prevent falls, maintain stability, and improve overall coordination. Here are some tips for incorporating balance exercises:
- Tai Chi or yoga poses. Join a Tai Chi class or incorporate yoga poses that focus on balance, such as the tree pose or warrior III pose. These activities improve stability and coordination.
- One-legged stands. Stand near a wall or sturdy support and practice balancing on one leg for increasing durations. As you progress, try closing your eyes to further challenge your balance. You can try doing it when brushing your teeth or cooking.
Recap and final thoughts
Exercise consistency is challenging, but with determination and a strategic approach, it is absolutely attainable and the health benefits are well worth the effort. By setting realistic goals, choosing activities you enjoy, scheduling your workouts, finding a workout buddy, mixing up your workouts, monitoring your progress, and creating the habit, you can establish a sustainable exercise routine that can help you enjoy long-lasting health benefits and increased life expectancy. Remember, consistency is key, so stick with it and enjoy the many benefits of regular exercise.
- 1Wang Y, Ashokan K. Physical Exercise: An Overview of Benefits From Psychological Level to Genetics and Beyond. Front Physiol. 2021 Aug 12;12:731858. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.731858. PMID: 34456756; PMCID: PMC8397487. PubMed Source
- 2Shortreed SM, Peeters A, Forbes AB. Estimating the effect of long-term physical activity on cardiovascular disease and mortality: evidence from the Framingham Heart Study. Heart. 2013 May;99(9):649-54. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2012-303461. Epub 2013 Mar 8. PMID: 23474622. PubMed Source
- 3CDC Report. Chapter 3. Physiologic responses and long-term adaptations to exercise Source
- 4Teixeira PJ, Carraça EV, Markland D, Silva MN, Ryan RM. Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: a systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Jun 22;9:78. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-78. PMID: 22726453; PMCID: PMC3441783. PubMed Source
- 5Lally, Phillippa et al. “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.” European Journal of Social Psychology 40 (2010): 998-1009. Source
- 6Keller J, Kwasnicka D, Klaiber P, Sichert L, Lally P, Fleig L. Habit formation following routine-based versus time-based cue planning: A randomized controlled trial. Br J Health Psychol. 2021 Sep;26(3):807-824. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12504. Epub 2021 Jan 6. PMID: 33405284. Source