My therapist is always expounding on the benefits of exercise.  She explains how great it can be for mental health, which is a fact that is also always found in mental health articles.  I am historically bad at maintaining a workout routine, despite knowing all of the potential benefits.  In an attempt to change for the better, I recently challenged myself to exercise every day for 7 days.  I knew that I would not maintain exercising every day for the rest of my life, but thought it would be a good way to get myself started.  Despite a few hiccups, I found that exercise does improve my mood, and that it fits into my schedule much easier than I thought it could.  Below is my summary of my 7+-day streak.

Day 1 – Sunday, November 19

I signed up for a gym a few months ago, while it was still under construction.  It finally opened a few days before my first workout.  This meant that on my first day of exercise I went to a brand-new gym.  I was one of 10 or so people working out, likely due to the recent opening.  I started by doing a fitness test on a treadmill.  I didn’t know that once you started this test, you could not slow the machine down without emergency stopping it.  This resulted in pushing me to what I thought was my limit, and then some.  After the fitness test, which gave me a score of “very poor” I continued on the treadmill for a total of 20 minutes.  I then went down and used the strength machines.  The small number of people there worked in my benefit, it meant that I could take my time learning how to use the different strength training machines.

Result: I came home in a much better mood than when I left the house.  I was excited about the new gym and my challenge.

 

Day 2 – Monday, November 20

I have been on a duckpin bowling league with my husband, brother, and sister-in-law for a few months.  Monday night was the last night of the league.  I counted the bowling as my exercise for the day.  My arms were sore from the day before, as was my back.  I did some stretches that evening for exercise as well.

Result: I felt a little guilty counting bowling as the exercise since it was an activity had already been doing.  I kept reminding myself that just because I had been doing it, that did not mean it was not exercise.

 

Day 3 – Tuesday, November 21

I went to the gym again on my third day.  I once again focused my cardio on the treadmill.  For strength I tried out a few more machines.

Result: I did not get as much of a mood jump as I had on Sunday, but I also was also in a better mood before starting my workout.

 

Day 4 – Wednesday, November 22

I focused more on the treadmill and did not do much with strength.  My muscles needed a break.

Result: I felt proud that I was already to day 4 of 7.  After my workout I was tired, but not sleepy.

 

Day 5 – Thursday, November 23

My fifth day fell on Thanksgiving.  I knew this would be the case and planned to use it as a semi-rest day.  For my exercise that day I gathered family for a post-dinner walk.

Result: It was nice to have a group walk, and despite the cold weather I was able to stay relatively warm.  It was a very low intensity walk, but I was still out and moving, so I decided it counted.

 

Day 6 – Friday, November 24

Everyone who gets a gym membership at my gym gets three free personal training sessions.  I went to my first one for my sixth day.  It was mainly talking about the different group classes and then we discussed the cardio equipment and it was recommended that I try the newer version of the elliptical since I have hyperextended knees.  I tried it and found that my quadricepts were exhausted very quickly.  I moved on to the treadmill where I was told it’s best to put it at an incline.

Result: It was good to get an overview of classes as well as cardio equipment.  I am looking forward to my next session during which we will discuss strength training.

 

Day 7 – Saturday, November 25

For the seventh day I took a walk.  First, I walked around and looked in shops with my husband, and then when we got home I took a more vigorous walk around the neighborhood.

Result:  It was nice to spend time outside, I was also impressed that I was already seeing a difference in my cardio endurance.

 

Day 8 – Sunday, November 26

I had originally planned on 7 days, and then somehow counted wrong and ended up with 8 days.  I realized this beforehand, but decided since I had a few easy days, I would go as originally planned to a morning yoga class at the gym.

Result: It was supposed to be a gentler form of yoga, but I found it hurt my joints more than regular, higher intensity yoga.  I’m glad I know this so I can plan on which type of yoga class to attend in the future.

 

Day 9 – Monday, November 27

This was no longer really a part of my challenge, but I still exercised and so, since it is part of the streak, I will include it.

I spent my entire time on the treadmill, I put it at a high incline and faster speeds.  I was really worn out by the end.

Result:  I enjoyed my time at the gym.  I worked muscles I didn’t know I was going to be working.

 

I’m glad that I did this challenge and now I understand why they say it’s good for mental health.  In the past I would do a sort-of workout and not feel any different, I learned that I need to push myself, and then I will feel the emotional benefits.  It has also made me crave and eat healthier foods.  I hope I am able to keep pushing myself.