It might be easy to assume that fit people are just born that way. I mean, some people are just born smarter than others, right? While we may all have a genetic predisposition to like certain things, that doesn't give us license to stop learning or being active. My cousin is a bookworm. She would rather spend her days sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a great book than do just about anything else. And as much as I love reading, if I were given the choice to do anything, I will almost always choose a run or a hike outside.
Of course we do what we enjoy and what makes us happy. So for those who have a hard time getting up and out the door (and perhaps getting their nose out of a book), here are some tips from the research for what makes fit people stay fit. There's some facts here that may surprise you!
- Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your routine. Working out in the morning has been shown to improve exercise consistency, even though multiple studies show that working out between 4 and 5 in the afternoon is physiologically the best time break a sweat (it is when our body temp is highest).
- Workout with a friend, hire a trainer, or join a class. Statistics have shown that individuals that work out with a partner have a higher probability of reaching their personal fitness goals. Consistency, motivation, and long-term commitment increases when you work out with a buddy!
- Pair your workout with an audio book, a podcast, or a youtube video. I haven't found any research on this one, but I have many clients and have even found for myself that I am much more motivated to go out when I know I have something engaging to listen to!
- Have a plan. Even for when you go on vacation or get sick. Just because your daily routing is different, that doesn't mean you have to give up your exercise. The general rule of thumb for illness is that if your symptoms are from the neck up, then it's OK to try a moderate workout. However, if your symptoms are from the neck down, take a day or two off. This isn't foolproof, however, and research done int he '90's points to the fact that those who regularly get moderate exercise will have half the days of illness as their sedentary counterparts. Stick to your program by doing something that is much lower in intensity from your normal routine unless you clearly feel worse after 10 minutes of movement.
- Move for the sake of moving. In 1986 Eric Ravussin studied 177 subjects who were confined to a 10x 12 foot respiratory chamber where everything was controlled except for how much the subjects were allowed to move around. Those who were more spontaneously active burned as much as 2300 calories in a 24 hour period!
- Find a great motivator. Most people think they are working out to stay trim and lean, but there are a million other benefits for activity. Improved cardiovascular function, improved sleep, decreased stress, improved patience. Did you know that a new study from the Journal of Labor Research shows that fit people make 9% more money than those who don't exercise?
- Work out on an empty stomach. Belgian researchers have recently discovered that the study group who exercised before eating, despite eating a horrible, weight gain-inducing diet, did not gain weight. Not only that, but the group's insulin sensitivity remained high and the bad diet did not make the group insulin resistant. Just another reason to get that workout in in the morning!
I like the idea of fidgeting and simply choosing a little different time of day to exercise on an empty stomach having such a large positive effect!