There are hundreds of ways to exercise and hundreds of reasons to exercise. I do it for my heart and for my waistline, to lower my stress level and to keep me from worrying about not exercising. Maintaining a fixed, weekly routine is important, for me, because I know how hard forming good habits can be and how easy it is to lose them.
Bad habits are hard to break. Good habits are hard to make. That’s why I take a hard line on sticking to an exercise routine. Without the routine, I’d spend hours guiltily thinking about how I should be out running, sitting on the couch pinching my belly and stressing out.
Four Days of Exercise, Three Days of Rest
My routine is driven by a two central ideas. I make sure that my goals are both achievable and sustainable. Part of the sustainability factor is short term and part is long term.
I run at least two miles on four days every week, usually selecting Saturday, Sunday, and two spaced-out weekdays. (Biking four miles is a substitute that I might use as much as twice a week.) This is, essentially, my regiment, designed to keep get my heart rate up for thirty minutes, burn calories to justify all the beer I drink, and give me an endorphin boost that lifts my mood and my energy.
Meeting the two mile minimum is key for my runs. Often, once I get my shoes on and mentally enter exercise mode, I will choose to take a longer run, up to six miles. However, having an “easy” option of a two mile run helps me to make sure that I won’t start skipping days. If I’m tired or the weather is bad, I can go for a slow jog for two miles, sweat, and feel no guilt.
This cardiovascular workout is the core of my routine. Additionally, I do 50 to 60 stomach crunches five or six nights every week in the evening along with 30-40 push-ups every few days. To me, the crunches are necessary and the pushups are bonus. My exercise goals are geared toward heart-fitness and calorie burning, not for building up muscle or achieving a certain body shape. Fit is the shape I’d like, but I’ll settle for healthy.
A Good Routine Feels Good
Is four days of running enough exercise to truly be healthy? Doctors recommend that everyone should exercise 30 minutes every day. My joints won’t take thirty minutes every day.
A recent attempt to make my exercise routine more rigorous did make me feel more fit, but also made my knees hurt all the time. The sustainability element of my exercise routine will not allow me to push too hard, to run every day. Running five times per week would have me buying Icy-Hot after a couple of months.So I compromise. Running four times a week will let me keep running for years.
In the summer to get a little extra exercise, I bike to work while maintaining the rest of my exercise routine, ending up with four days of running, six days of crunches, five days of biking, and three days of push-ups.
This adds up to ten to fifteen miles of running every week (because I often exceed the minimum, two-mile run), with a few bonus miles of biking on top of that. With time spent on stomach crunches and push-ups, the total exercise time in my week is somewhere around three hours. That’s a little below the doctor’s recommendation of 30 minutes every day.
Though this routine won’t break any records, it feels good to me.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention