By now, we all know that exercise is good for the body. It relieves stress, prevents chronic disease, improves memory . . . you know the drill. But when you just can’t with the thought of physical activity, what should you do?
Whether or not you’re already physically active, if your giddyup ghosted, it might not have to do with your self-motivation—it may just be that your current bad habits are holding you back. Take a moment to check in with yourself to ensure you’re not hanging on to these three anti-exercise habits.
01. You’re sticking to the same routine(s).
Sure, sticking to a tried-and-true routine makes for more productive mornings. But doing the same workouts over and over is a recipe for a snooze fest.
A study by the University of Florida found that switching up your workouts is linked to a higher rate of adherence. You’re more likely to continue exercising, even if you are just starting a new fitness regimen. Ultimately, some variation is key to keeping things mentally interesting and exciting. It also makes it more of a (good) challenge.
Plus, a habit of mixing it up ensures that all your body parts get the equal playtime they deserve. And it can help prevent injury by ensuring some muscle groups don't get overworked. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests alternating between difficulty levels and types throughout the week. For example, do restorative yoga one day, Zumba the next, and jogging the third. Rinse and repeat! (Just don’t forget to give yourself a rest day.)
02. You’re not drinking enough water.
Failing to fuel up on H2O is bad news—especially if you’re trying to keep up with regular exercise. Water makes up most of your body composition—at least a whopping 60 percent, in fact! Water is essential for our cells to do their thing on the daily. But since our body naturally loses water through breathing, sweating, and bathroom brakes, consistently drinking your recommended daily amount of water is vital.
According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dehydration can cause headaches and chronic fatigue. Mayo Clinic also lists dizziness, light-headedness, and confusion as symptoms of dehydration. The result is zero energy for even picking up the laundry—let alone your feet.
And if you work out on empty? Your exercise performance will take a nosedive. Not having enough water means less blood will flow to the moving muscles and your blood pressure will be a mess. It makes for an uncomfortably exhausting experience—not exactly motivation to get you going the next time.
Your best bet? Sip on water throughout the day, but drink 6 to 8 ounces of water about twenty minutes before exercising. There are plenty of ways to trick yourself into staying hydrated while you working out, too. Avoid sugary sports drinks along with coffee and energy drinks. These will just give you a post-workout caffeine crash. Instead, stick to simple H2O. If you’re not a fan of plain water, try infused water recipes with fruits, herbs and spices.
03. You’re skipping breakfast.
When you barely have time to brush your hair, making a morning meal seems inconvenient. Unfortunately, this habit might be your major road block to breaking a sweat.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating breakfast each morning increases physical activity. In other words, it gives you more energy! Think about it: your glucose levels decrease while you sleep. This is a result of the body’s natural process of using glucose for energy. Come morning, it’s up to you to replenish those "fasting" levels. This is where a healthy breakfast comes in.
Regularly eating breakfast gives you more consistent energy throughout the day. It prevents fatigue, headaches, and your motivation from vanishing down the drain. You’ll also be less likely to overeat later on, something that can otherwise lead to an energy crash.
No need to eat a three-course meal first thing, though. Keep it light and simple. If you're pressed for time, look into healthy breakfasts that you can make in advance. Specifically, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests focusing on high-protein breakfasts—think hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter toast, and ricotta with fruit.
Be real with yourself. Start ditching these habits slowly and over time. It will increase your chances of reaching your fitness goals—and a lifetime of healthy living.
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