4 Simple Rules To Keep You Fit For Life

Are you one of those people who can't seem to stick to your exercise program? You do well for a while and then something happens that totally throws you off track? Maybe you need to set some new rules to live by to create a healthy lifestyle that lasts.

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My 4 Rules

1. Never go more than three days without exercise.

2. Exercise at least three days a week.

3. Never miss a Monday.

4. Never give up.

Rules are great. They are actually better than great. They are necessary in life. We have household rules, school rules, governmental rules, and we even have rules at work. So why wouldn’t we have rules with our health and fitness?

Even though most people break rules occasionally, just think of the things we would try to get away with if we didn’t have any rules at all? Rules keep us in line and help us stay on track–and they can keep us on track with fitness too.

Sadly, most people don’t apply rules to fitness. They go to the gym as much as “they can” (whatever that means). Oftentimes, they even exercise without any specific goals or direction. Doing fitness without guidelines gives you too much room for failure. We need these rules and measurements to help us determine what success is, and to help us stay on course.

Since I used to be the queen of irregular workouts, I developed four simple rules to keep me on track–and boy, has it helped!

1. Never go more than three days without exercise.

I have to say, since I started living by these rules, I rarely ever break this one. Three days gives me plenty of time to enjoy a long weekend without feeling guilty about missing a workout. If I have applied all the other rules prior to my vacation, I can go proud and feeling good knowing three days isn’t going to kill me.

Where people go wrong is they workout all the time and then they miss a few days. Then, those few days turn into a few weeks. A few weeks turn into a few months. You get the picture. It’s happened to all of us.

Living by this rule gets you back in the gym so you stay consistent and don’t get out of the habit of regular exercise. Fitness is not a trend or a phase. It should be a lifestyle.

2. Exercise at least three days a week.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) gives guidelines for recommended exercise. On the top of their list is aerobic exercise, which works our cardiovascular system (our heart and lungs). Even though we call this type of exercise “cardio,” most of us do it to burn calories and fat more than exercise our life support system.

ACSM actually addresses frequency, recommending we perform physical activity a minimum of three to five times each week for 20 to 60 minutes at a time. ACSM actually clarifies that even more by giving us goals of how many calories we should burn during those workouts, which is 300 calories per exercise three days a week or 200 calories per session four days a week. That’s just less than 1,000 calories of exercise burned per week. (Note: That is barely enough calories to burn off one hamburger, one small French fry, and a coke per week! Just saying.)

However, if you want the best results, ACSM suggests your weekly expenditure be closer to 2,000 calories per week. For me, that would be an equivalent to 30 minutes of cardio every day or four 1-hour group exercise classes per week. This is what I strive for every week and has proven to be great for maintenance, preventing weight gain and keeping me fit.

While ACSM also encourages us to add strength training and flexibility exercises to the list too, cardio is still top priority for general health and fighting disease as well as combating weight gain.

So, worst-case scenario, a bad week would still mean I met ACSM’s minimum exercise requirements for good health. Not too shabby right?

3. Never miss a Monday.

I always say Monday is like New Year’s Day for each week. It’s a chance to start over, start fresh, and start right. Just like New Year’s Day not only marks the beginning of a new year, it also marks the completion of the prior year. It’s the line in the sand that seems to release us from the past and allows us to start over.

Each Monday is like that for me. It doesn’t matter what I did last week or how bad I messed up. As soon as Monday comes, I can put last week behind me and start over. While we can start fresh any day of the week, there is something to be said about starting the week out right and making a fresh commitment to get back on track.

4. Never give up.

Even if I go more than three days without working out, I don’t get to exercise three times one week, or I do miss a Monday, none of these rules work if I give up. I have to stay committed to trying my best to live by these rules. I will fail. I will get sick or have an emergency that may throw me off. Life will happen.

The key to success is not avoiding failure. The key to success is not giving up. Failure only happens when we quit trying to succeed.

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