5-star Fitness

The Psychology Of Exercise!

Written By Page Lauer • 4 min read

From improved well-being and increased energy levels to better sleep, enhanced confidence and a more resilient attitude to stress – exercise can provide a range of mental health benefits. A study from Harvard showed that physical activity can decrease depression by a remarkable 26%! However, for many individuals, regularly exercising can prove to be a challenge. Some popular offenders that impede our ability to regularly exercise might include:

  • stress and busy-ness
  • poor habits
  • injuries or physical limitations
  • lack of motivation low energy
  • fear of starting back up
  • lack of support, knowledge or methods 
  • expectations to do more than is recommended when beginning
  • aging concerns

Does any one or more of these blockages resonate with you? If so, a practical question to ask yourself is, “What might help?” While you ponder that question, I’m going to help you understand the stages of exercise. By identifying the stage of exercise you are in, and setting appropriate goals, it is easier to create consistent habits. You really can set yourself up for positive results with your exercise routine!

The 4 stages of exercise

  1. Beginning/Pre-Conditioning: At this stage we start the process of conditioning the body and begin disciplining ourselves to show up. Shorter, less intense workouts can be helpful to build the habit and move us toward the next stage. This stage may last 4-6 weeks depending on your  level of fitness as we strengthen the heart, lungs and main muscle groups.
  2. Improvement Conditioning: With an initial level of conditioning achieved in Stage 1, we can begin to learn proper form as well as lengthen workouts, add weight or resistance, and increase intensity. At this stage, we are also better at working toward and reaching optimal heart rate. We have begun regularly including cardio and strength training as well as targeting all muscle groups. This stage may last another 4-6 weeks depending on level of fitness and frequency of workouts. 
  3. Maintenance: At this stage, exercise is much more functional and frequent. We’re now able to perform a wide range of physical activities for significant periods of time with proper form. Optimal heart rate is more easily reached and workouts are more balanced as well as intense. Movement in other areas of life also increases in terms of daily activity, sports, hobbies, etc. This stage may take 6-8 weeks depending on frequency and intensity of workouts.
  4. Mastery: With the previous 3 stages accomplished, knowledge of our body and its abilities have significantly increased. We are able to target and access specific muscle groups and take on new challenges with greater ease. Being out of our physical comfort zone often occurs in this stage. We more naturally identify with health and exercise, having made it into a lifestyle. While exercise is still effort and hard work, there is a familiarity and a frequency that is much more natural.

Understanding the stage you are currently in, and taking practical steps to develop it, are surefire ways to set yourself up for success. But that’s not all that can help you achieve the mindset and motivation you need to exercise regularly! Here are a few powerful tips to help give you the extra edge you need to win:

Make It Enjoyable: When we pick things we like to do, we are more likely to stick with them. Physical activity does not have to be all ‘grind.’ Discover the thrill of exercising with a friend or group in the great outdoors! Choose from a wide range of activities like sports, dance, boxing, spinning, intervals, yoga and more – the possibilities are truly endless!

Have an Accountability System: If you’re serious about getting in shape and reaching your fitness goals, enlist some help. From having an exercise buddy to hiring a trainer, signing up for a competition, committing to a studio or classes by paying in advance, or finding an accountability coach – the options are plenty and the rewards will be too!

Keep Exercise in Perspective: Stay fit and healthy without stress! Exercise has numerous undeniable benefits for your physical and mental health, but don’t worry if you miss a day – it’s not the end of the world. Also, keep in mind that 80-85% of our appearance is a result of our nutritional routine. Do your best and have a plan to get back on track whenever you might get derailed.

The bottom line:  It is essential to understand your current stage of exercise to create an effective strategy tailored to you. Make sure you’re having fun, staying accountable, and keeping the right perspective. And if you do happen to slip off the wagon, don’t worry—have a plan in place to get back on track! 

Are you ready to make exercise a priority in your life, but don’t know where to start? I’m here to help! I can show you how to make exercise part of your lifestyle, even if you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of practice. How we think about and approach exercise is the first step! Book a 1-on-1 coaching session with me today to get started on your journey to wellness.

Behavioral Health Director

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