I consider myself one of the lucky ones - I've always enjoyed exercise - and hosting Boundless has been a great opportunity to maintain my fitness well into my thirties. in my early years it wasn't exercise, it was just playing. I'd only run because I wanted to get somewhere quickly and walking was too slow. Team sports were what I loved the most, but over time, I began to appreciate the beauty of endurance sports.
Photo: Liz Barney
There are numerous studies that correlate exercise to increased physical and mental health and improved quality of life throughout out lives. Researchers are also exploring the link between exercise and aging, which are showing that exercise is acting as a "Fountain of Youth", slowing the aging and degradation of cells. While what I do on Boundless is admittedly extreme, and not always the healthiest way to exercise, research shows that as little as 20 minutes of activity per day (both cardio and strength) shows substantial benefits.
Despite this knowledge, many of us still have difficulty adding exercise to our daily routine. When I worked at ExxonMobil, I regularly saw our top executives in the staff gym over lunch hour to help rejuvenate them, and balance out their hectic, and stressful schedules. Stepping out the door is the hardest part of committing to exercise, so if you can get out the front door, you've won more than half the battle. Here are four tricks that I use to stay motivated and committed to my training:
Fun: We typically excel in tasks that we enjoy, and underperform in those we dislike. When you're picking the type of exercise, look for activities that seem fun to you. Don't be afraid to try a bunch of sports and activities until you find something that you love. Try classes, join groups or teams, or try solo activities to find your zone. My training is a mix of group sessions and solo activity, and my mantra is "Motion is lotion."
Goals: Humans have always excelled when we have set great goals. If you reflect on your own life, you'll notice that your successes have likely been tied to your goals. Remember that your own fitness goals are unique to you - you don't have to shoot for the moon - but it is important to set a goal that presently seems just beyond your reach. It will give you something to work towards, and when you achieve it will provide a deep sense of satisfaction and usually a hunger to chase down bigger goals. Your goals also don't have to be competitions - racing isn't for everyone.
Accountability: Coaches and trainers exist for two reasons - guidance and accountability. If you are new to athletics or a particular sport don't be afraid to seek out this mentorship. For new athletes, I think the best coaching is hands on, face to face as opposed to online. You don't have to do this alone - we all do better when we are held accountable for our actions. Coaches can guide your training to help maximize your progress, and help you avoid injuries related to poor planning. Runners, in particular, are prone to chasing speed and often ramp up volume and intensity too quickly - leaving them injured and disillusioned.
Photo: Luis Moreira
Schedule: Regardless of schedule, we should all be able to find time to get active each day. If you find your schedule too full, just remember that the best version of you is one where you take time to nurture yourself. Ignoring your needs to cater to those of others (family, friends, work) is not a strategy for long term success. There are some great ways to add exercise into your day without significantly impacting your schedule. Look at making your daily commute human powered to some extent. Can you sneak away at lunch for a workout? Can you walk your pet a little longer each day to get those precious minutes in? Can you skip your favourite show and replace it without a workout? These little changes eventually manifest into permanent changes in your schedule - where your workouts are as fixed as any other appointment. The faster you can develop a routine, the more likely you are to stick to your training program!