Times have changed in India over the past couple of decades and we are now finding people who are consciously making more time to exercise and Staying Fit. There are a number of definitions of fitness but the most practical and applicable according to me is by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digests of the U.S.A. (PCSFN): It defines physical fitness “as the ability to carry on daily activities with great energy and awareness without premature fatigue to enjoy leisure-time and respond to urgencies.”
Today, we are seeing more and more people train for long distance running (like a half or a full marathon) on the streets early morning and also people who spend thousands on joining a good gym to get the ball rolling. Has this change been sudden? Of course not. We, as Indians have eventually realized the importance of keeping ourselves healthy and investing in ourselves. The fitness and nutrition industry has boomed in the last few decades, all thanks to a variety of media like books, the internet, the television, etc.
While there are individuals who are getting fitter by the day, some of us are still stuck in a dilemma as to how and when to choose the path of fitness. Surprisingly, almost every fit individual was once in this position. But all it took was one step ahead and then it was never about looking back. So, is there a shortcut to fitness?
Shockingly enough, yes there is. I call this, set of points, a shortcut because it will deviate you from all the external commotion and distraction and lead you to the path of fitness EVERY DAY. A number of research studies in the field of Public Health have inferred that MOTIVATION is one sole player in keeping an individual adhere to their fitness regime throughout their life. Once the Motivation drops, the fitness drops too since they are directly correlated to each other.
Here are a few key points that will help you maintain your motivation for Staying Fit
1. Understand the intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivators related to fitness: Internally, getting fitter will only make life easier. Your internal bodily systems will work in perfect synchrony and you will “feel” healthier and disease-free. Externally, your body will look much more “in shape” due to decreased body-fat percentage and a possible increase in muscle mass. Who doesn’t want to look attractive?
2. Choose an objective: In other words, set a goal in terms of the sport or activity you want to get better at and give yourself at least 3 months to work on it. Make sure that you are really interested in learning the activity to keep the motivation as high as possible.
3. Find a good educator: I use the word “educator” rather than a trainer or a coach because you want to make sure that you know why you do what you do! Blindly following your trainer’s advice without knowing correct reasons is not going to help you and it may also put you at the risk of injuries. To make things easier, pick an educator who is certified by a reputable institute in their areas of expertise. For example, A.C.S.M., A.C.E., and N.S.C.A. are some reputable institutes when it comes to fitness and Exercise Science. Do your research!
4. Have fun and be persistent: Enjoyment is key to staying motivated. Look forward to the intrinsic and extrinsic changes that are going to take place. Try to stick to your training routine at least 3 times and at the most 6 times a week. Does your training routine need to be hard every day? Of course not! As long as you engage in a moderate-intensity training session (30-45 minutes) each time, you can expect steady improvements over time as a beginner.
5. Track your progress: The only way you will be aware of your improvement is by physically writing it down in your own handwriting. This will not only keep you motivated but also show you any shortcomings in your training in case you tend to slack off.
If you just follow the above set of “shortcut” points, you will definitely begin your fitness journey for a lifetime. The goal of keeping fit is to stay healthy and active throughout your life-span and increase longevity. Exercise Psychology studies conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine revealed that it usually takes up to 6 months of continued adherence to your physical activity program to make it a part of your innate nature. So without further ado, start getting fit today!