A guide to creating an exercise routine that you’ll actually stick with, and how often to change your routine.
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If you’re new to working out, the whole thing might seem too difficult. What sort of exercise should you do, and how often? What equipment do you need? How will it fit into your busy schedule? You can need a lie down before you've even gotten started.
But setting up an exercise regime doesn’t need to be a workout in itself. You can actually have your exercise schedule put together in just seven steps.
Here, we’ll take you through how to create an exercise routine that you’ll actually stick to. We’ll also explore how often to change your routine.
We all know exercise benefits our health, but what does that really mean?
Creating an exercise routine is about more than weight management. In fact, the aesthetics of it all is just a bonus — the physiological and psychological benefits are the main events.
Exercise can help to improve your mental health, reduce your risk of disease, strengthen your bones and muscles, and improve mobility and flexibility.
With a solid exercise routine under your belt, you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep better and deeper.
Your risk of developing health issues — including several types of cancers, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease — is significantly reduced by at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. That’s just 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Regular exercise can also help to reduce pain and improve mobility and quality of life in people with chronic conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Your endurance and energy levels will improve as you exercise, meaning daily tasks will feel easier to complete, and you’ll also be able to work out for longer.
When you’ve learnt how to create an exercise routine, you can look forward to an improved mood and a boost in your sex life.
Exercise stimulates the release of feel-good brain chemicals (namely endorphins) which are responsible for making you feel happier and more relaxed.
Not only can exercise put you in a sensual mood in this way, but regular exercise also enhances arousal by fostering a better and more positive connection with your body.
With all these benefits in mind, let’s look at how to create an exercise routine that will make you feel like the best version of yourself.
It’s one of the best things you can do for your health, but creating an exercise routine can feel like a big undertaking.
Good news— you can create your own exercise routine in seven steps.
The process doesn’t have to be as complicated as fitness moguls would lead you to believe. The crux of it is working out what movement feels right in your body and carving out time to do that movement (trust us, it’s possible — even if you feel like you don’t have the time).
The first step to creating an exercise routine is working out your ‘why’.
Consider your reason for working out. Are you hoping to run a marathon? Do you want to gain or lose weight? Are you looking for a way to calm your mind and body daily? Or do you just simply want to incorporate movement into your life?
Write down your goals to get a better picture of your ‘why’. Once you understand your reasons for working out, you can start to consider what movement might help to get you there.
After you’ve identified why you want to create an exercise routine, you’re a big leap closer to identifying the type of exercise to include in your schedule.
If you’re looking to gain muscle, strength training is your best bet.
To train for that marathon, you’ll need to include a mix of cardio and strength and conditioning training.
If you don’t have any particular fitness goals and you’re just looking to add exercise to your day-to-day life, think about what kinds of movements seem appealing to you.
Do you love the idea of a spin class, or is running along a forest trail more your speed? Perhaps swimming sounds like fun to you, or you’d like to start weight training in the gym.
Use this as a starting point for your research. Take a look at the class offerings at local gyms and specialised venues. Scope out the walking and running tracks in your area.
When it comes to exercise, your routine should be based on the movement you enjoy.
Balance is important — we’ll look at this next — but to create an exercise you’ll stick to, start with the kind of movement that looks enjoyable to you and go from there.
No matter your goal, as a general rule of thumb, every good workout routine should include both strength and cardiovascular training.
This will ensure that you reap all of the benefits of exercise; improved heart, lung and brain health from cardiovascular exercise and strong muscles and improved mobility from strength and conditioning training.
Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate cardio (or 75 minutes of intense cardio) per week for great cardiovascular health.
Aim for around two strength training sessions a week, with two to three sets of one exercise for 12 to 15 repetitions.
This breakdown will vary depending on your goals and training preference, but it’s a great balance if you’re unsure where to start.
You might consider joining a pilates studio that offers a mix of HIIT and strength classes, or split your gym routine into two to four weight training days and a run or walk every other day.
One of the best ways to create an exercise routine that will stick is to treat your workouts like appointments.
Schedule them straight away. Whether you’re booking a spot in a class or simply carving out time for a run, add these sessions to your calendar.
At the start of the week, write down the workout you’re doing on that day (for example, lower body focus at the gym) and prepare your workout in advance to minimise hassle on the day.
If this feels like a bit too much work to maintain, consider signing up for a program at your gym or using a fitness app. Your workouts will be set out and scheduled for you — all you have to do is complete them!
While you’re writing up your schedule, plan time in between sessions for your body to rest.
You should have at least one recovery day a week, but two or three rest days are preferable when you’re just starting out.
If you’re following a program at the gym or on an app, the schedule should have rest days built into it already.
Next, it’s time to work out what equipment you need.
Securing the right equipment goes a long way in setting you up for success.
Now you know how to create an exercise routine, you’re ready to get moving.
As you begin your exercise journey, remember to encourage yourself as you would a friend. Your self-talk will be just as important as the movement itself, so encourage yourself at every turn. Congratulate yourself for doing an amazing thing for your mind and body.
It’s important to start slow and build up gradually. Diving in too quickly and intensely can lead to injury, so be patient with yourself.
Creating a solid exercise routine that works for you will involve some trial and error. Enjoy the process!
When you’re looking at how to create an exercise routine, the most important thing to remember is to find movement that you enjoy.
From there, consider ways you can balance cardio and strength training, then schedule your sessions exactly like you would with a doctor’s appointment.
Finding an exercise routine that suits you might take some trial and error but stick at it. These habits will set you up for a healthier, more energised future.