As a person who enjoys fitness and as a personal trainer, I think there are some important variables to a workout. Each variable can be scaled based on your personal circumstance.
First you must enjoy your workout.
Yep, I said that. So, when you’re just starting out, a 10 minute walk might be enjoyable. That’s what I want. I want you to get moving, feel excited, actually be able to accomplish the goal you set for yourself. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2016 confirmed that perceived competence, that is the sense of mastery or winning, is one of the biggest factors in enjoying a workout and, ultimately, sticking to a fitness routine. So, start where you’re at and slowly get better.
Personally, I don’t enjoy workouts that make me feel like I’m going to throw up. I enjoy running, but going too fast or too long is not something I’d enjoy. Ways to increase the enjoyment of your workout is to add music, friends or even scenery. Don’t do a workout you hate. Not only will you probably not stick to it, your mind will continue to grow against the very idea.
You should enjoy your workout. The Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that those who “think fun” while exercising ate less afterwards as opposed to those who focused on the end result of weight loss. Science has shown that folks who enjoy their workouts are more likely to maintain a regular routine. Focus on enjoying your workout and you’ll find more success.
By the way, your workouts will scale as your fitness does, as will the enjoyment factor. I once went to a spinning class that was so slow I didn’t enjoy it. That was just because it was designed for a different level of fitness (and level of calm) than I wanted. If you find yourself less fit than you used to be, it might be wise to not try and jump back in to what you were doing then. Work your way back up, enjoy the journey and give yourself the gift of small victories.
That all being said, there really is just one secret for a perfect workout.
The perfect workout is the one you’ll do.
As I mentioned, there’s no one way to get fit. There’s no exact right way to do it. You just have to challenge your body. Consistently. The best way to do that is to find a workout that you actually enjoy and want to do. You don’t have to lift weights. You don’t have to run. You don’t have to do CrossFit. So give up on the notion that your fitness has to be on someone else’s terms. Find a few things you enjoy and challenge your body with them daily.
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