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6 Ways to Add Self-Care to Your Fitness Routine

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Do you dread heading to the gym, or lace up your running shoes with a sense of resignation? If so, you need more self-care in your fitness routine. By taking a self-care approach, you can cultivate a regimen that you'll actually look forward to doing. Here's how to get started.

Do Workouts You Genuinely Enjoy

Working out shouldn't be a burden. If you find yourself skipping workouts because you dread the routine, seek forms of fitness you can get excited about. These are some popular types of exercise you might find more fulfilling than a cardio session at the gym:

Strength Training

  • Rock climbing
  • Martial arts
  • Swimming
  • Gymnastics

Cardiovascular Exercise

Balance and Flexibility Training

Keep in mind that some of these activities accomplish multiple types of fitness at once! For example, yoga, martial arts and gymnastics increase both strength and flexibility, while swimming is both a cardio workout and a full-body strengthening exercise.

Make Your Fitness Routine Fit Your Schedule

If exercise keeps you from things you'd rather be doing, getting active will feel like a chore. Make your exercise routine fit into your lifestyle so going to the gym doesn't feel like a major sacrifice. You'll have to adjust your schedule somewhat to fit your fitness routine, but if you wake up early, hit the gym on your lunch break, or schedule workouts on set days of the week, you'll be able to stay active without giving up your social life or family time.

You can make going to the gym an even more attainable goal by creating your own workout space at home. Doing so will also save you money in the long run — while there are a few gym chains that are notoriously affordable, you’ll still likely spend at least a few hundred bucks annually on a membership. Make some space in your garage or basement, add a few basic pieces of equipment (kettlebells, a yoga mat, a pull-up bar, and resistance bands are great to start with), and see if you can’t get your family to join you in your get-healthy routine.

Take Rest Days

Rest days give your muscles time to recover and rebuild after an intense workout. They also allow you time to pursue non-fitness hobbies, socialize with friends and family, or just enjoy a quiet day at home. Fitness Blender recommends scheduling one or two rest days per week. If it's not a rest day but the muscle group you planned to train is still sore from the last workout, focus on a different muscle group that day or take an active rest day with light physical activity, like walking and stretching. Or, you can take up a hobby, one that allows you to rest while keeping your mind engaged. Some people enjoy painting, whereas others are more musically include, whether it’s a love of saxophones or electric guitars. Don’t look at this as a waste of time, as studies suggest there’s a link between creativity and physical fitness.

Add Meditation to Your Cool-Down Routine

According to the Science of People, meditation reduces stress, improves focus and creativity, and makes you feel more connected to other people. By linking meditation to your workout routine, you ensure this valuable self-care activity doesn't get skipped. After cooling down with a few minutes of light exercise and stretching, spend 10 minutes practicing meditation. You'll finish your workout feeling calm, clear-headed and ready to take on the world.

Track Your Progress

It's hard to notice subtle changes in your own fitness level and physical appearance. As a result, you might feel like you're not making any progress. Avoid developing a defeatist attitude toward your exercise regimen by regularly tracking your progress.

Don't use the scale as your only progress-tracking tool. The numbers on the scale can be deceiving, especially if you're putting on muscle at the same time as you're losing fat. Take photos of yourself, pay attention to how your clothes fit, and track your strength and endurance during exercise so you have an accurate perception of your progress.

Watch Your Social Media Use

Social media can be a great source of fitness tips and inspiration, but it can also do a lot of harm to your self-esteem. Deceptive fitness photos on social media platforms like Instagram can cause you to develop unrealistic expectations for your own fitness. While you don't have to sign off of social media completely, be mindful of how you use it and avoid comparing yourself to photos online.

Your fitness routine should lift you up, not bring you down. Unfortunately, many of us view working out as a necessary evil — something we have to do to stay healthy, but not something we want to do. While it's true that fitness is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle, it should also be something that's enjoyable. By weaving these self-care practices into your fitness routine, you stay focused on the true purpose of exercise: feeling your best so you can be your best.

This post was written by Sheila Olson at fitsheila.com


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