The cooler weather is lovely, isn’t it? I hope you’ve been getting outside to walk, run, or engage in another activity of your choice if doing so strikes your fancy this time of year.
When I was little, I didn’t really think of myself as the outdoor type. I’m probably still not — if you were to ask me if I want to camp or stay in a hotel, I would select the hotel or skip the trip. Camping is so not my thing — bugs like to eat me. Also, I really appreciate modern plumbing.
Yet, despite not wanting to sleep in a tent, I look forward to spending time outside and breathing in the fresh air every day. Though this wasn’t always the case, it’s exercise — running, in particular — that has changed my perspective on spending time in the great outdoors.
Or perhaps it’s not that exercise has changed my perspective… Maybe I’m the same person I have been, and I’ve found a way to appreciate being outside on my own terms.
Personal preferences make a difference when it comes to habit formation. Whether you like to exercise inside or outside, finding a routine that works for you as well as activities you enjoy are critical to your ability to sustain your exercise habit over the long term.
Maybe you’ve found a routine that works. How long did it take you to find it? How much experimentation did you go through before everything clicked for you?
If you go through phases where exercising is easy to include in your schedule and phases where you struggle to exercise consistently, know that this is normal.
Exercise is meant to enhance your life, not be the focal point of your life (at least for most of us). Sometimes we will choose to prioritize other activities over exercise, and that’s okay.
Other things come up. Maybe it’s a busy week at work or you are taking care of an aging parent or injured child, and then you are racking up rest days faster than your exercise days.
Once you are out of the habit of exercising regularly, you may find it challenging to pick up your previous routine. At these moments, adding activities that reduce your stress and increase your sense of well-being will serve you more than aiming to dive in at the same intensity and frequency that you previously maintained.
If you’ve gotten out of the habit of exercising regularly, setting new goals can sometimes give you the needed push to begin again.
Understanding your values and preferences — and setting fitness goals that are meaningful to you — can help you continue to move in a direction that makes sense for you and your lifestyle, regardless of where you are in your fitness journey.