Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

How I manage my stress with a 5:00am workout

NIFS | Managing Stress | Early WorkoutI know I'm not the ONLY one who exercises early in the morning.  While I don't have stats on the percent of exercising adults who workout before 7:00am, I know there are quite a lot of us; I see my tribe at the gym when I'm there at o'dark thirty.  (Seriously, why would commercial gyms open at 5:00am if there wasn't a demand for it?)  Still, whenever I get into a conversation with a friend about exercise and it comes out that I'm on the treadmill at 5:00am, I get the "are you out of your bleeping mind" look. 

The thing is, adulting is hard. There are a lot of pressures flying in (and sometimes sticking around) from different directions. We're wearing so many hats - wife, mom, friend, volunteer, employee - that without fail, when one of those important elements in life is out of whack with high stress, the other areas suffer too. 

I know it sounds cliche, but exercise is my fix.  When I'm not moving my body regularly, the carefully-laid house of cards I've built that has the appearance of everything going smoothly in my life is going to get blown over by the slightest of stressors.  Enter the 5AM workout.  I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I've tried other times of the day and it just doesn't fit for my life.  I have to be at work by 7:30am so I can leave by 4:30pm for kid pick up and once I'm in mom-mode, forget the afternoon/evening for "me" time. I suppose I could try the lunch-time thing if I thought my coworkers would be okay with me sweating in the office (even after a shower...yes, I'm one of THOSE people).

To be clear, when my alarm goes off at 4:30am it's not like I'm all bright eyed and perky.  I stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot and then sit on the couch to go through some basic seated stretches while I wipe the sleep from my eyes. I am never happy about the 5:00am workout, and I don't hit it every day, but I'm always glad when it's done and my whole day is better for it.  

I've done the early morning workout since I started adulting after college, and I've learned over the years to listen to my body so each early meet up with the treadmill, the weights, or the pool isn't always a time trial to beat yesterdays effort. I'm more forgiving for a light day and for skipping a day which has its own benefits for my psyche. 

When I managed corporate fitness centers for NIFS years ago, I used to get asked what was the best time of day to workout, and my answer was always the same: it's whatever time you actually will workout.  That's still my answer; 5:00am isn't for everyone. But there are a lot of hours in the day to choose to move your body.  Even a short 10 minute stint can be powerful for your health.  Carve out the time, no matter the hour and no matter how brief. Your body, your family, and your friends will be glad you did. 

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Topics: stress workouts morning workout making time to exercise exercise habit

4 Ways to Find a Healthy Relationship with Exercise

We all do it. Your friend says to you, “Alright, we have three months until Jamaica! Let’s start exercising!” Both of you are on board to start an exercise regimen and are full throttle for three months straight. You are committed and neither of you have missed a sweat session since you started. You have been eating healthier, feeling great and working towards a goal. Everything is going great and then, vacation sets in.

Bam! Was all that hard work really just for week-long trip to look good in Jamaica? This is unrealistic goal setting and it can create issues with your relationship with exercise. So, how do we get into a better mind-set that exercising isn’t just getting ready for that trip to Jamaica or to have a body like Jessica Biel?

NIFS | Healthy Relationship with Exercise

#1: Change your mentality towards exercise.

Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a release; a release physically and mentally from your crummy day at work or from that test you took and think you totally bombed. Maybe, the workout doesn't have to be all "go hard or go home"; what if it was a simple walk on the treadmill or outside to clear your head? Working out as a means to an end (like prepping for a trip, or a class reunion) creates a lot of self-imposed pressure and it leads to a built in stopping point. The added pressure can also increase your risk for injury if you start out too intensely. Why add that to all of life’s other stress? Finding a positive relationship with exercise may take time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

#2: Find the workout that makes YOU happy.

One of your friends swears by hot yoga, but you have another social circle who only workout at their CrossFit® gym. You try both avenues and totally hate them, but stick with them because, hey, that’s what buddies do, right? WRONG. You need to find what makes you tick. If hot yoga isn’t your thing, don’t do it because it’s your BFF's favorite thing to do. Maybe, you like to just take leisure walk/jogs through the park or you enjoy power lifting. You won’t know until you try. (And this leads me into the next item on the list.)

#3: Get out of your comfort zone.

I know it’s scary, but staying in a comfortable zone doesn’t create change. It also doesn’t help us figure out what we like and it certainly doesn't help us get better. Maybe you can find a buddy to go with you to your first spin class so it isn’t so daunting. Whatever it takes, get out of your comfort zone, try something new, re-evaluate and figure out what works best for you! If you have access to a gym or a corporate fitness center, talk to staff you trust to broaden your perspective on ways to move that might be fun.

#4: Get a handle on YOUR Relationship with Exercise.

We know now that “getting the perfect body” or “getting ripped for vacay” is NOT a healthy relationship with exercise. A healthy relationship with exercise is using it as a tool to relax, to feel well, and/or to use as a life-long hobby. Trust me, you won’t stick with it if you decide three months before Jamaica you want to look like Jennifer Aniston. Your goals need to be attainable and healthy; they also need to be unique to you. 

Exercise shouldn’t be a quick fix to a problem and it shouldn't be complete drudgery each time you strap on your gym shoes. If you hate moving your body, then try another approach.  It should be a life-style choice that you find gratifying and enjoyable.

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Topics: making time to exercise exercising motivation healthy living corporate fitness programming setting exercise goals healthy relationship with exercise

Making Time to Exercise

Since I was a young child, I have continuously heard in school how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly. Starting at a young age is important too because it will create good habits that will carry on throughout life. I remember in my classes we would talk about adults having difficulties making time to exercise. One of the reasons that stuck out the most to me was not having any time. I had a hard time understanding this reason but now that I have entered the work force, I definitely understand how some may believe that there is not ANY time to exercise.  I can only imagine other factors such as kids, workload, second jobs, errands, etc.  That is okay, because today we are going to look at the top reasons for not exercising and finding solutions so that everyone can find a way to exercise even on your busiest day.

Studies show these are the top reasons why some do not exercise:

Not Enough Time 

When you have work, kids, cleaning and other errands to run, it may seem impossible to take time to workout because other things are more of a priority or more necessary. I think that is the key to making time to exercise, it has to be a necessity. When we believe things are important, we make time for them and should do the same for exercising. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. That is just 30 minutes a day, for 5 days a week! It can be broken up any way you want, whether it is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, doing it all at once or even breaking it down in to 10 minute sessions.  It does not matter as long as you hit the recommendation.

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Exercising Hurts 

Never push yourself to where you feel pain. If you are feeling pain, it is time to decrease the intensity and slow down. It is okay to ease into a basic workout routine. Light cardio and light weightlifting is acceptable to start until you feel comfortable increasing the intensity. Sometimes, you experience soreness from a previous workout and if that is the case, take extra rest days to let your body recover. 

Lack of Motivation 

It is so easy to stay home relaxing and not make an extra trip to the gym, but what is going to get you motivated to exercise? Sometimes writing goals down can help.  Also, rewarding yourself each week or once a month is great motivational tactic. Rewards should be fun and exciting and you could bring a friend on board for an extra boost and a dose of commitment.  You can also benefit from the behavioral science of loss aversion to keep you moving.  Find out more about charity fitness apps as a tool to keep you motivated.

It’s Boring 

There are so many ways to enjoy exercise. It is about finding which form of exercise  or activity you like best to continue moving forward. Yes, you have your traditional way of exercising by hopping on a cardio machine or lifting weights, but there are many other options. You can try a group fitness class at a local or private gym and see what styles you enjoy.

[Read More: Check out the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule!]

If you are not a fan of group fitness, consider joining an adult sports league or try outdoor activities such as running and hiking. You can also buy exercise DVDs or subscribe to a fitness streaming services to use at home.  There's a good chance your kids’ game system has workout “games”  the whole family can use. It is a great way to get the kids involved as well!

Making exercise a habit is going to make it more possible to stick with your fitness goals. There are many ways to make extra time for a workout, you just have to find what works for you and make sure you are choosing enjoyable activities. That’s a recipe for success!

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Topics: exercise and health exercise habit making time to exercise