Get Better Today
Each day offers us a chance to take a step towards a fitness goal. We have a daily opportunity to exercise, or strategically recover from a previous workout. Consistently seizing that opportunity fast tracks your progress, whereas regularly missing it pushes your goal further away. If you find yourself losing motivation and constantly falling short, you might need to re-frame your expectations.
A common sentiment is that if conditions aren’t perfect, exercise is not worth doing. For example, planning to go the gym for an hour but finding yourself with only a half hour left after a busy day, and skipping it altogether because it doesn’t seem worth it. A big part of long term health and fitness success is maintaining flexible short term expectations to help you make exercise a habit.
How Much Do You Really Need?
Optimally, the right amount of exercise for you is however much improves your health and brings your fitness goals to fruition. The American College of Sports Medicine has set out guidelines to help form a general plan:
- Two and half hours of moderate aerobic exercise OR an hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous exercise every week OR a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise.
- Two to three non-consecutive days of strength training for all the major muscles each week. Using exercises based on major human movements makes meeting this goal easier than trying to target each muscle group individually.
- Include balance, agility and coordination exercises at least two to three days each week
- Stretch at least two days each week
That probably seems like a lot, but you can cover a lot of those bases in a single workout.
Something is Always Better Than Nothing
Even on days when most of your time has been eaten up by meetings running long, traffic being heavier then normal, or some other unexpected circumstance, you can still do something. It might be a 5 minute walk. Or, 5 minutes of chair squats and counter push ups in succession. Or a quick recovery day of 5 minutes of hip stretches.
This mindset puts you in a habit of doing something good for yourself, even if it’s not what you planned. Changing your short term plan to stick to your long term plan can be vital. Hopefully the days that you have to do less than planned are few and far between. But the key point is, even when time only allows a shortened workout, you don’t skip it!