You already know that exercise is good for you. Countless studies highlight the benefits of regular physical activity. It prevents disease, improves mental health, decreases the risk of falling (something that scares most of us as we age) and improves cognitive function (yes, it has been shown to lower the risk of dementia). Regular exercise helps control blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol, and reduces the risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. In addition to advancing your mental health, it also strengthens social networks when you join others in an exercise class, a hike, or other group activity. Exercising with a friend promotes a joint sense of purpose and can minimize loneliness.
Why then is it so hard to make exercise part of your routine life? As some of you may know, I have been a group exercise instructor at the World Bank Group for over 27 years. Every January, the Fitness Center would be crowded with people filled with good intentions and New Year’s Resolutions to commit to a healthy lifestyle with a regular exercise program. By the end of January, the Fitness Center was back to normal and most of the newly well-intentioned had disappeared. I would often run into former exercisers in the elevator who asked me how I found the time to commit to a regular exercise program. My response was always the same, “It’s part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth.” What they were really asking was what they needed to do to make fitness their daily habit. This blog reflects some of my thoughts on how to do so. Here are some pointers to help get you started. While many experts say that it takes 66 days to form a habit, let’s simplify that to say it takes about two months.
One final tip. Exercise does not have to be strenuous, but it does have to be regular to help you make it a habit. Remember to be kind to yourself. If you’re not feeling well and must miss a day, don’t stress. Get back to your routine the next day. You’re doing something good for you. Just keep it up and before you know it, fitness will become part of your daily routine.
Disclaimer: Although moderate physical activity is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
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Yes indeed Susan, you are so inspiring! Years ago, you got me involved in the WBG fitness center. Even though I considered myself active as a ballet dancer, “the gym” was not a place I saw myself. Yet, through your encouragement I found that I needed alternative ways of working my body. As we age, we all need strength, cardio and flexibility training to keep both body and mind agile. I’m not into running or walking, so I take fitness classes on zoom 5-6 days a week!
Thanks, Lesley. I must admit that I’ve always been jealous of your flexibility!!! I have a vivid image of you leading cool-down stretches to a mass of Fitness Center members in the H Building Auditorium for the grand finale of our Fit-n-Fun Fundraiser. Great memories as we continue in our fitness journey!💪🏻😊
Susan: Thank you for sharing these practical and doable tips. I miss seeing you and your positive energy at the gym.
Thank you for the kind words, Angelica. I miss seeing you in the gym, too. Our group of volunteer instructors always had great energy!
Susan, these are great tips! I echo Judith’s and Bridge’s comments as I too was greatly inspired by your fun and energetic group classes. Fully agree the buddy system is quite effective ~ that’s how I had started my exercise routines many yrs ago and now playing reverse role motivating others. 🤗
Dear Grace. I miss seeing your smiling face at our favorite place and how fantastic to hear that you’re motivating others to lead a fit lifestyle. Kudos to you.👏💕
Good pragmatic and lucid advice coming from someone whose enthusiasm for life has always impressed!
Chris Trapman!!! It’s been such a long time since I’ve “seen” you. 30 years? Thank you for the kind words.
Susan, I remember the day you started your career as a volunteer fitness instructor. You have inspired many members for many years and you still inspire me with your enthusiasm, your sense of humor and your knowledge, not just about fitness. ❤
Judith, such a sweet message… I too remember when I started teaching. It was due to you. You were such an inspiration to me that I jumped at the opportunity to sub for you while you were going on maternity leave. You always made the classes fun, yet challenging!
Susan – you are and have been such an inspiration to so many 🤗
Thank you, dear friend. It’s been an honor to be part of the fabulous WBG fitness community.