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Effort. Consistency. Progression
You don’t need to run a marathon or bench press a loading van to improve your health. Doing ANYTHING is better than doing nothing – so pick something you like and commit to improving at it. That’s about the long and the short of it. But if I could elaborate on how best to approach exercise, it would be to make an effort, be consistent and progress.
Effort: if it is not at least a little difficult, then it is not helping. Your body needs to receive a sufficient stimulus in order to change – the work needs to be hard enough that it thinks, ”Oh dear, better be ready for next time!” The size of the effort needed increases as you get fitter e.g. in the beginning, walking around the block is enough, but Olympic level athletes train 3-6hrs a day in order to improve their fitness. So as long as the exercise is challenging, it should improve your fitness – so break a sweat, breathe hard and revel in a challenge overcome.
Consistency: slow and steady wins the race. Do not be the person who makes a New Year’s Resolution, gets to the gym 5 days a week in January and then gives up in February (insert excuse here: tired/busy/injured/etc). When exercising, it’s important to have goals – it can keep you motivated, directed and committed. But goals don’t get reached in one all-out sprint – they get reached by putting one foot in front of the other. Baby steps. The success of any training program is directly correlated to how many training sessions you can string together – the longer the chain, the closer you are to your goals.
Progression: if you don’t increase the stimulus to the body, the body will stop adapting. You can’t keep running the same pace or lifting the same weights for months on end and hope to keep improving. If you’re not getting just a little stronger/faster, you’re not getting fitter. And you won’t get stronger or faster if you don’t keep pushing yourself just a little bit harder each week. So instead of running 5km in 30mins, try to run it in 29min and 30seconds. Instead of lifting 20kg weights, lift 22kg weights. Gradually increase the stimulus and you will keep making gradual progress.