Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your health – both physically speaking, and also psychologically.
In fact, a regular workout routine won’t only help to get you in good shape and help you to feel your best, but – according to researchers – it will even help promote neuroplasticity in the brain, meaning that working out may literally make you smarter.
Of course, exercise isn’t necessarily as straightforward as we would like it to be. There are always going to be issued to overcome related to motivation and energy management, and if you don’t balance your exercise properly with rest and recovery, there’s a good chance that you will burn yourself out and end up doing more harm than good.
Your regular exercise routine should be something that helps to improve your life in a consistent, sustainable, and holistic way. Here are a few exercise principles for feeling your best.
Train to stimulate a response, not to wipe yourself out
At this particular moment in time, “high intensity” workout routines of various sorts are remarkably popular, and typically promise to help people to transform their bodies in a hurry, just as long as they’re willing to sweat harder in each training session.
Proponents of the high-intensity, to-failure training ethos have included the CrossFit movement – and, tellingly, there have been plenty of health scandals surrounding leading high-intensity methodologies.
Interestingly enough, many old-time strongmen and athletes explicitly commented that, during exercise, it was important to “train, not strain.” The famous early 20th-century bodybuilder Charles Atlas, for example, was a fan of this approach.
When you train yourself to complete exhaustion and muscular failure, you are taxing your central nervous system dramatically, and can therefore, end up weakening your immune system and causing a host of negative physical and psychological side-effects. It’s not uncommon for people to become so rundown after extreme training routines that they become sick immediately after, for example.
Even apart from the negative physical consequences of training to absolute exhaustion, though, it’s worth considering the basic fact that wiping yourself out in your training sessions is going to naturally make you more averse to exercise. After all, if every workout feels like complete torture and punishment, why would you look forward to your workouts and be motivated to stay consistent with them over time?
There’s a good deal of evidence out there that you do not need to train to exhaustion in order to become fitter and healthier or to build muscle. In fact, you will likely have significantly better results if you don’t push yourself to the absolute limit.
Prioritize nutrition first and foremost
Whatever it is you want to achieve from your exercise routine, it’s important to realize that good nutrition is an absolutely indispensable part of the equation.
It will be virtually impossible for you to lose body fat, for example, if you’re eating a large surplus of calories. It is simply a lot harder to burn off excess calories through an exercise that is to consume less food in the first place.
By the same token, you can’t eat at a large calorie deficit and expect to gain muscle, no matter how much resistance training you do.
Even if you aren’t specifically aiming to lose fat and build muscle, though, eating enough – and ensuring that you have all your essential vitamin and mineral needs met through diet and supplementation – is essential for ensuring that you are properly energized for each workout, and have a healthy and well-functioning endocrine system.
Find a style of exercise that you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to do a routine you hate
There are a truly enormous number of different ways in which you can get your heart rate up and meet the requirements of a good and effective workout.
Despite this fact, though, many people end up sabotaging themselves by trying to force themselves to stick with exercise routines that they find fundamentally unrewarding and frustrating, rather than looking for ways to move and work up a sweat that is more innately enjoyable.
If you hate running in place on a treadmill, then don’t do it. Why not, instead, join a martial arts class? Or a dance class?
The more you can actually have fun with your workout routine and take pleasure in it for its own sake, the more positive you will feel, and the higher the likelihood that you will find yourself able to reliably stick with that routine in the long term.
Pay attention to exercises for mobility, flexibility, and joint health
There are many different types of training you can do that have the potential to be beneficial in one sense or another – but without paying proper attention to mobility, flexibility, and joint health, your exercise routine might actually become a form of self-sabotage.
Chronic muscle tightening and shortening can happen if you go through the same limited motions in all of your workouts, without paying attention to good stretching routines and proper posture. Over time, this can lead to chronic aches and pains and can put undue stress on your joints and cause a variety of related problems.
There are various routines out there for enhancing your mobility and addressing joint pains that you might be experiencing. Exercises for back pain in elderly people will typically take a different form from the types of stretching routines that a competitive gymnast would participate in, for example.
In any event, it’s well worth finding mobility, flexibility, and joint health regimen that will work well for you.
Keep it simple, and avoid overly complex routines
Simplicity might not always be the best approach for every scenario in life, but simple exercise routines do tend to have a variety of benefits over more complex ones.
For one thing, simple exercise routines – featuring fewer exercises and less nuanced techniques – will typically be easier to complete in a short space of time. They will also reduce a lot of the overthinking that often goes into maintaining an exercise routine and fine-tuning it with each workout.
If you can base your exercise routine around two or three core movements, or one or two leisure pastimes, you will tend to enjoy greater peace of mind while also achieving better results.