I had a reaffirming chat with my guest along the trail yesterday. When guiding I’m usually paying attention to my guest’s breathing and footsteps to identify if I need to change my pace. During our 1.2 mile elevation gain of 1,000 feet I noticed my guest keeping a good pace and holding a conversation.
I asked how she maintained such good physical condition and what she did to stay active. As she listed her favorite activities I realized she was using two beliefs or practices that have significantly contributed to my own health success; creating a physically active lifestyle and varying activities. Let’s break down how each idea is practiced and why we should practice them to stay physically fit and healthy.
Why We Should Create a Physically Active Lifestyle
We should have a reasonable plan to exercise regularly, but we should also create a physically active lifestyle full of the activities we love. In those real-life moments when we must miss a scheduled workout, we’ll have our physically active lifestyle to fall back on. Another reason to create a physically active lifestyle is because you can make it just right for you.
There are many ways to approach fitness. Like finding a healthy eating pattern, we must discover what works best for us. We simply won’t come back and do it again if we don’t enjoy it. So brainstorm ideas, try a few, and find what you love.
How We Can Create a Physically Active Lifestyle
Below are a few tips for success in creating a physically active lifestyle:
- Identify activities that will challenge you, and keep you coming back for more
- Don’t bother with activities you don’t enjoy; it doesn’t make the workout count more
- Choose activities that work with YOUR lifestyle and allow for flexibility
- Rigid routines with high expectations built on the strengths we want versus the strength we have don’t set us up for success. Workout when and how it is best for you.
- Get social with it. Bring a friend. Join an online group.
- Exercise shouldn’t be torture. Matter of fact, it should be fun.
- Lean into the power of self confidence
- Find an activity that makes you proud and use that pride as motivation.
Why We Should Vary Activities
According to the Physical Activity Guideline for Americans we should participate in regular physical activity to reduce the risk of a variety of health issues. Each week we should perform activities that are moderate-intensity, vigorous-intensity, or a combination of both. The guidelines also recommend strengthening activities for all muscles and cardiorespiratory training spread throughout the week. (Outdoor Workout Ideas)
How We Can Vary Activities
A well-rounded physically active lifestyle should incorporate a combination of activities to fully address these recommendations. So how does my guest do it? Her boxing is great cardiorespiratory training that can be moderate or high-intensity. Her gym time offers strength training. This not only improves her body composition and helps her better perform activities of daily living but also increases bone density.
Her hiking habit helps build core, back, and lower body muscles while building cardiorespiratory endurance with both moderate and high-intensity as an option. Her High Intensity Interval Training classes offer another chance to increase muscle and challenge her cardiovascular systems. The variety of activities she chooses really sets her up for health success.
A good example of how I practice varying activities is including a Yin Yoga practice. This is a slow-paced variation that emphasizes restoration. Teaching online, I perform all the work my clients perform and give instruction. That means I’m completing several strength training and cardio workouts a week. As a hiking guide I may also lead as many as 8-10 hikes a week. That means hiking up to 40 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain.
When I have time to myself, I need to spend time on flexibility and restoration. This practice allows me to practice flexibility and bring balance to the hard work I’ve done throughout my week. Yin yoga is the perfect addition to keep my physically active lifestyle well-rounded.
Confirmation of Success
Why was my guest’s response so affirming? It was so affirming because these ideas are not just what I practice but also what I preach. These are practices I encourage my clients to invest in. My guest’s story is confirmation that they don’t just work for me. So what do you think? Have you incorporated these practices and seen results? Do you have other best practices for maintaining health and fitness? Let me know in the comments.