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How to create a simple exercise program that works uniquely for you

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Exercise, what is it good for?

Absolutely everything!

It boosts our self-confidence and makes us feel good. It helps our sleep, our heart, lungs, muscles, weight, it boosts our vitality. Exercise is an essential ingredient to a healthy lifestyle, and yet, despite it making us feel good, it sometimes is so damn hard to motivate ourselves to do it.

Why is that? Because, like many things we dislike, it is about perception. We are looking at exercise through the wrong lens. Exercise is not something we do. It is not something we add to our daily list of “To do’s”. Exercise is a way of being. Being more active in your current lifestyle.

When you tweak your current lifestyle to be more active, you don’t have to go to the gym. You don’t have to walk 10,000 steps to reach your health goals. Add in some fun activities that you wish you had more time for, and you are well on your way to meet your fitness goals. This blog is a guide to creating a more active lifestyle. A guide to create a personal exercise program by living a more active life. After all, what is the best exercise for you? The best exercise for you to lose weight or stay fit? It’s the one you keep on doing.

What is Exercise?

According to Wikipedia, exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. Pretty broad definition, right? Now scan the activities you do in your daily life and your weekly routine? How many of them are exercise by Wikipedia’s broad definition? Is gardening exercise? Is vacuuming exercise? Do they help maintain physical fitness and overall health and wellness? Yes!

How about hauling a load of laundry, or chasing your child or pet up the stairs? Is walking around a grocery store with a heavy basket of groceries exercise? How about dancing and singing out of tune to your favourite playlist? Yes, yes and yes, they are all exercise. Unless we lie 24/7 on a couch, which we don’t because we would be dead, we all do some activities in our daily life. We add these activities when we create our personal exercise program. But is it enough to maintain physical fitness and overall health and wellness? And is it the right type of exercise? Let’s explore

Types of Exercise

There are four types of exercises that we should all be doing to keep us healthy. Aerobic, strengthening, stretching and balance. When you create a personal exercise program make sure you include all four.


Anything that speeds up your heart and breathing rate is aerobic exercise. Think of running, hiking, walking up a flight of steps, dancing and vacuuming. Cardio exercises your heart and lungs and builds your endurance. You know you need more when you are more out of breath than the average person your age doing a similar activity.


Any load you put on your muscles is strengthening. Standing or sitting without leaning on a chair or wall is strengthening. Hauling bags and weeds and babies is strengthening. Strength training makes you feel more confident. It stimulates muscle and bone growth, lowers blood sugar and assists with weight control. It improves balance and posture and reduces stress and pain in the lower back and joints.


Stretching helps maintain flexibility. It helps to remove toxins and keeps our muscles functioning properly. Muscles get shorter with age and become tight with stress. Muscles work in pairs. We have flexors and extensors (think biceps and triceps). When we keep one of the paired muscles in a constant flexed position (think calf muscles with high heals or hip flexors with sitting), we put strain on the other one. The pair are not balanced. This leads to strain and injury, cramps and joint pain. A good Hatha yoga session strengthens and stretches the muscle pairs and is great for balance. And, at the end, our favourite position, the corpse pose, releases tension to keep us less tight.


This becomes more important as we age and is the easiest and most fun to incorporate into our daily lives. Think walking over boulders on the beach, or along fallen tree trunks on your hike. Following a crack in the pavement or standing on alternative feet while you wait for the bus or ferry.

What is Moderate vs Vigorous Excercise?

Moderate physical activity will cause you to sweat a little and breathe harder. You can talk, but you can’t sing. Vigorous activity will cause you to sweat and be out of breath.

Now You are Ready to Create Your Personal Exercise Program

You now have the basics of what exercise is and a guideline of what you need. You are ready to set up your own personal exercise plan. Remember, you are adapting this plan to your current life. You are taking your current lifestyle and tweaking it to be more active and adding some fun.

6 Tips for Creating A Personal Excercise Plan

1. Tweak Your Current Activities

Make a list of all the activities you currently do and add them up. How much more do you need to do to reach current guidelines? Avoid the rut of adding a run or a gym session if you are below guidelines, unless, of course, you want to. Tweak your current lifestyle to make it more active. Climb the stairs to work. Or walk halfway to work and stop at your favourite coffee shop along the way. Have TGIF at the beach or up the mountain or dancing at a nightclub instead of sitting (again) at a bar or restaurant.

2. Do What You Love

This is your personalized exercise plan. Remember, the best exercise is the one you keep doing, so make it fun. You are working from home and are more socially isolated? Meet your peeps to throw a football at a nearby park. Into video game? Buy some active ones that make you sweat. Love to watch tv every night? Keep some weights, a yoga mat or a small exercise bike nearby and pop on it during commercials or the half time report. Put your headphones on and dance while you cook.

3. Variety is the Spice of Life

Yes, routine is essential in our day to day life. Yet for most of us, the routine of work and meals etc already feels too much. So, when it comes to exercise, out with the routine and in with the variety. Change your activities according to the weather, the time of day, the way you feel and what you long for. It’s summer, too hot to garden or hike the mountain? Wake up with the birds and do it then. Feeling pissed and angry at an altercation at work? Go wack a ball or run like hell. You are in “fight-or-flight” mode, your adrenalin is surging. Choose an activity that mimics “fight-or-flight” to burn off that adrenalin.

Feeling emotionally drained and just want to watch your favourite show? Go ahead, its the perfect time to do some stretches during the ads. Feeling down, a little isolated? Sign up for a walk to raise funds for Ukraine and get triple health points. You get exercise, you add meaning to your life and you become more socially active. Wow, that’s a good one. Get double health points for riding to your favourite blackberry patch. Exercise and antioxidants! If you pick extra berries to freeze in ice trays for future smoothies, you get an extra health point, you are saving your money. Put it towards something healthy and fun like a vacation. Yup, vacations are healthy. Be imaginative, be creative. This is your personal activity guide.

4. Don’t Pay for Someone Else’s Exercise

You have a cleaner or wish you could afford one? Really? Unless you are physically active all day, why use some of your hard earned money to pay someone else to exercise? Housecleaning, gardening are excellent exercises. You pay for someone to come to your house to exercise and then you pay to go to the gym to exercise, does that make sense?

5. Add Specifics for Your Body

We develop weak points as we age, like back or knee pain. A good physiotherapist will run you through a group of exercises and send you home with detailed instructions on how to perform them. Blend them into your lifestyle vs adding them to your “to do” list. Do a couple during a desk break, add the stretches to your TV time. If your favorite activity is hiking, ask your therapist for exercises you can incorporate into your hike.

6. Take a Rest Day and Enjoy Every Moment

Sunday is my rest day, and if I want to lie on the couch all day and eat cheezies I can. Its’ my rest day, I can do what I want.
Of course, there are other days in the week that I may not have worked out as much as I should. It’s ok. We are not machines, our mood, our energy levels fluctuate. Be kind and gentle with yourself. As our lifestyle slowly becomes more active, we will have more energy and we will want to continue, and yes, there will be times when we are lazy louts.

Bringing it All Together

Being active is an important part of living a good life. It boosts your mood, your sense of wellbeing and helps to ward off many illnesses. Let your current lifestyle naturally flow into something more active, with little tweaks and imaginative fun bits.

Bring awareness to yourself and your body. After an activity, does it feel good? Yes? Then bring awareness to that feel good feeling. Are you tired and just want to chill? Are you angry and just want to fight? Adjust your activities to your mood,

Find your Balance and let health be your guide.

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