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.