When I was younger, I used to love all kinds of exercise. Running, jumping, playing with the scooter, skipping rope, and hula-hooping. When I reached 13 years old though, I started feeling weak, faint and tired most of the time. My face and lips were also almost always pale. After a blood test, I discovered I had mild anemia – it wasn’t bad enough to be life threatening, but it was sufficient to make me stay away from sports because I always felt light headed.
After close to 10 years of actively keeping away from sports, I forgot how happy and energized exercise once used to make me feel. I thought that because of my anemia, I could never find go back to being the young energetic person I was who loved to exercise. But a few years back, I decided to get back to exercising again, because I enjoyed all the benefits it had on my body – I was happier, emotionally and mentally more stable, had more confidence in my own body, and was better able to handle university life and all the stresses it had brought. These results definitely weren’t instantaneous though. They all slowly occurred over months and years. And at first, exercise made me feel even more exhausted, so my frail body needed time to get used to it before the benefits came.
As someone who’s always been skinny since young (which does not mean I’m healthy on the inside), I sought exercise more for its mental benefits instead of weight loss, but I gradually lost 3kg through being more aware of what I ate and how much I exercised, and have since sustained that weight through the years.
On first look, I don’t actually seem any skinnier (that might be too skinny for me), but my body has become more well-toned (I can even see some baby abs despite my laziness!)
So anyway…here are some useful tips regarding exercise which I’ve discovered from both my personal experience and some research (from positive psychology)!
- Choose Activities which Fit You (Lifestyle, Interests, Physique)
Are you a speed demon who loves zipping down streets/slopes/ice/snow? Or are you the type who likes feeling zen while contorting your body into various positions?
I do exercise for the adrenaline and happiness it gives me, so I go for more cardio than strength-building exercises. I also love trying new things, such as skateboarding and ice skating. The newfound balance and strength in my legs those activities have given me surprises even myself. I loveee speed, so those activities are apt for me.
I didn’t start with much strength in my legs and arms, so when I tried out yoga, it proved toooo difficult and strenuous for me. Holding positions wasn’t something for me – I preferred to run/jump/zoom around.
If you haven’t been exercising before, make sure to start out small – go for walks, climb stairs instead of escalators etc and slowly expand the duration and intensity.
Although it’s good to work on your weaknesses, make sure that most of the time you’re doing something you enjoy and love, and which is not too tough for your body. It’s better to keep up with moderately intense exercise thrice a week than to go all-out in one session and have a crazy body ache which prevents you from exercising the rest of the week.
So, try out different activities, both new activities you might enjoy, and old ones which you’ve always loved!
- Set and Keep Up with a Schedule – Commit
It’s good to decide on which days you plan to exercise each week, and the frequency per week. Since I’m not out to be a *super* fit person or have the body of a model’s, I keep my exercise to 3 times a week, and on alternate days. My daily schedule is kind of erratic, but I try to make sure I fit in some time to exercise every 2 days. If you have the money, you can even sign up for weekly classes at the gym to ensure you won’t miss a class (because that’d be a waste of money).
Be real with yourself. I like to do my exercise in the mornings, because I know I’ll procrastinate if I push it to later in the day. It used to make me feel tired for the rest of the day, but now it helps me to start my day with a brighter, more energetic mindset. Also, you’d already feel productive because you completed one thing off your checklist for the day. 😀 #lifehack
Make sure you keep to your schedule/frequency of exercise, because it’s so easy to give one day a miss and just completely derail from your original plan…and you end up not exercising at all. For me, the first step – changing and getting to the exercise place – is always the hardest. So most of the time I cut that part out if I’m feeling lazy; I just exercise on my mat at home. In my pyjamas. Yup. I’m an ironically lazy exerciser.
I have been using the app “SWORKIT“, which is filled with tons of mini exercises to do, along with a timer, so you can vary the duration according to how much time you want to spend on exercising. I usually keep it to 20-30mins per session. There’s also this other app called “Zombies, Run!” which keeps you engaged with a zombie-world story/gameplay while you run throughout your neighbourhood. I haven’t tried it (because my laziness would not allow it), but it seems fun for people who like running outside! Another app which might encourage you to walk/run more is PokemonGo, although the hype is long gone!
I would love to know about any other useful app which helps keep people engaged in exercise! 😀
- Vary your Activities
Make sure to have a number of activities you like on hand (or in your head), so you can alternate between them for each exercise session. Otherwise any normal person would eventually get bored and can’t keep this up for the rest of their lives. For me, I do cardio/strength workouts at home, jogging around the reservoir, jogging at the gym, skateboarding, hiking and ice skating. You can vary the activity itself, the people you do it with, and the location you engage it in, in order to keep yourself interested in exercising regularly in the long-term.
Yup, your exercise has to be constant and maintained throughout your life! Of course, life circumstances might cause some rifts/pauses here and there, but you should start out exercising with the mindset to maintain it. Running a marathon and not exercising for years after isn’t as effective compared to someone who has consistently exercised moderately/lightly on a weekly basis.
To be honest, even I myself am unsure of whether I can keep this up when I (finally) get myself a full-time job, but exercise has brought me so many benefits of which I can’t bear to let go of. *To future me, you might be lazy and lacking sleep, but pls continue exercising*
- Reward Yourself
Treat yourself before exercising by eating a good breakfast, allocating enough time for exercise and preparing music/towel/water bottle for the workout.
After exercising, reward yourself with lots of water and a good shower! I love how basic things such as water, showers, and feeling the breeze on my skin give me so much more happiness after a good workout.
As you can see, I’m not the fittest, healthiest or most motivated person around – in fact I’m the total opposite. So these are all tips which the average person can achieve. (Yup, the “if-the-super-weak-and-unhealthy-me-can-do-it-so-can-you” thing).
Click here for Pt. 2: Diet in my “How I casually became (somewhat) healthier” series.
Any other tips for exercise you can share with me? 😛