The Trick to Gracefully Balancing a Fitness Routine with Self-Care10,000 footprints
This article features our amazing guest writer, Sheila. Learn more about her at Fit Sheila.
It’s hard to balance self-care with a good fitness routine, while also maintaining self-discipline that doesn’t devolve into an “I deserve this chocolate cake because I worked really hard today” mentality. Want to create a (nearly) perfect blend of exercise and overall self-care? Try these tips.
Check in with your body. Feeling a little sluggish or sore, lacking energy or the enthusiasm to get your sweat on? That’s probably not a good reason to skip exercising. If, however, you’ve got a fever or bad allergy attack, you’re nursing a sprained muscle or tear, you should definitely take it easy.
Determine your priority for each day. Is it weight-loss related? Start your workout! Need to de-stress and decompress, ward off some anxiety, psych yourself up for a big presentation? Meditate or do yoga.
Make a plan. Some people work well with a strict schedule that delineates which day to exercise at home or the gym, when to meditate, when to rest, when to eat well—and when to enjoy a splurge day. Other people take it day-by-day. Plan and strategize in a way that’s right for you—without stressing about it.
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Move—by doing something fun! No one says that exercise has to involve hitting the gym at 5 a.m. or after dinner when you’d rather chill or play with the kids. Movement is important for your body, but it just means that you should do something that elevates your heart rate for at least 20 – 30 minutes a day. If you’re chasing after an active toddler, you’ve probably got it covered already! If you’re more attracted to low-impact activities like a stroll after dinner, roller skating with the kids, or a leisurely swim, it counts. Remember: you’re more likely to stick with something that’s fun and that you enjoy.
Take a yoga class. Yoga is perfect for strengthening your core muscles so that they get a workout at the same time as you’re working out your mind with meditation and mindfulness, other important self-care components. Learn more about yoga’s mental and physical benefits–regardless of whether you’re a newbie or professional athlete.
Choose heart-healthy exercise.Too much exercise can cause nearly as much harm to your body as not enough activity. Your body can enter a catabolic state where your tissues break down; your muscle fibers may develop microscopic tears that won’t heal and could lead to greater injuries, you might develop insomnia, and most serious of all—you could damage your heart.
Instead, consider doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts which alternate short periods of intense activity and active rest periods. You’ll get the same benefits and strengthen your heart without causing it undue stress.
Try this 12-month self-care challenge. Each month, you’re challenged to implement just one thing into your life—and each item or activity is designed to make you feel better spiritually, mentally, and physically. Here’s a sneak preview:
- February: Set digital limits
- May: Find your (B)LISS (Low Intensity Steady State cardio)
- September: Sleep challenge
Fitness routines for people in recovery
If you’re in recovery from substance abuse, which can really take a toll on your body, start your exercise program slowly. Low-impact exercises are the perfect way to gradually incorporate movement back into your life. Don’t overdo it, though. You don’t want to replace one addiction with another one or accidentally burn yourself out from exercise overload.
Experts agree that recovering addicts who exercise benefit from:
- Decreased effects of stress.
- A more positive mood.
- Better coping abilities.
- Fewer cravings and reduced effects of drugs.
- Improved self-esteem, thinking abilities, and self-discipline.
- Better sleep.
Creating a balance between fitness and self-care presents many challenges. Don’t neglect the simpler pleasures which also offer a blend of both: leisurely walks to clear your mind and stretch your muscles, slightly more strenuous hikes in nature—a known antidote to depression and anxiety—and playing catch or mini-golf with family and friends.
Taking time to chill gives your body needed recuperation time. Relaxation is a completely valid way to de-stress your brain and your muscles, too. And if you just can’t sit still, try a meditative martial art like tai-chi or qi-gong.