Starting and Sticking with an Exercise Plan

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Words: Chelsea Wright
Photo: fstop123

It’s no secret that exercise offers an array of benefits. From building your body to providing a mood boost, regular physical activity helps prevent a number of health problems. As a mason, a regular exercise routine can help prevent injuries and improve your output. 

Let’s face it: after a long day on a jobsite, relaxing on the couch and watching tv, sounds a lot more appealing than sweating in a crowded gym. In addition, making it to the gym before a shift may not be realistic either, as most masons start their days before the sun comes up and are heading home when it’s setting. So how can a bricklayer become more motivated to exercise, after a long day of strenuous labor? Consider implementing these steps to properly kick off your fitness plan and stick to it.

Step 1: Make a plan

Get clear about your goals and write them down. When you’re serious about making a lifestyle change, writing down your goals and how you plan to execute them can be a powerful first step. This will require you to become more aware of your current habits, so you can properly develop strategies to change them. Brainstorm what leading a healthier lifestyle means to you, what you’ll need to get started, and create a plan to make it happen. 

Start by setting challenging, yet realistic goals for yourself. Begin with small changes, as you’ll want to focus on establishing habits first. According to a 2009 study, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. Therefore, in the beginning, you’ll really have to push yourself to stick with the routine you’ve created. Habits take on average 66 days to become automatic. Always remember your why, and what made you get started in the first place. The longer you stick with your exercise program, the more automatic it becomes.

Step 2: Set Up Your Environment for Success

If you want to change your life, change your environment. Start by taking inventory of your pantry and refrigerator, and get rid of foods that don’t fit into your goals. Next, consider budgeting in workout equipment for home. Then, create a dedicated space for your workouts. Spruce up that space by hanging up motivational quotes and pictures or get a calendar and mark it each time you’ve completed a workout. Lastly, talk to your household members about your fitness goals. Let them know that you’re embarking on a new fitness journey and ask that they join you or support you along the way. Your loved ones will need to know that you’re serious when you ask for some time to complete a workout or request additional support to keep you motivated.

Step 3: Find the Right Workout Routine

It can be tempting to buy into the latest workout programs, but fitness journeys are not one size fits all. Finding a workout routine that fits your lifestyle and goals is important. A great way to add exercise to your daily routine is to connect your exercise plan with an already established habit. For example, exercise when watching your favorite tv show, while listening to an audiobook or when taking your dog on a walk. Workouts don’t have to belong or extreme. Start with just 20 minutes of moderate exercise per day and try to complete your exercises around the same time, so your brain can begin forming the habit. 

In addition, find a training style that benefits areas of your body that are needed most to perform your job, such as Functional Strength Training. Functional Strength Training works your muscles to prepare them for daily tasks, by simulating common movements you might do at work. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common work situations. 

Step 4: Make Time for Rest and Recovery

After a long day at a job site, proper rest and recovery are necessities. Think of your body as a car engine, if it runs too long without being properly fueled, it’ll run out of gas. The same goes for when you’re taking on an exercise plan. Your plan is not complete without proper rest and recovery. 

Rest and recovery allow your body an opportunity to heal itself and recuperate from the day’s activities. According to Precision Nutrition, when we engage in strenuous physical activity, “our connective tissues can experience micro-tearing, our cortisol levels increase and if not healed properly this can lead to uncomfortable inflammation.” Low energy, fatigue, and an overall feeling of something being “off” is a sign that you may not be properly recovering. The best way to recover is to get a good night’s rest. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to perform their best. 

Before starting your exercise routine, be sure to stretch to warm up your body and make time for a cool down afterward. Stretching, foam rolling and walking are all great ways to assist your body in cooling down after exercise. Additionally, you must eat well to replenish nutrient stores and drink enough water to assist in waste removal. 

Step 5: Get An Accountability Partner 

Accountability partners are made up of one or more individuals who are willing to hold you accountable. The American Society of Training and Development did a study on accountability and found that “you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.” Having someone supporting you on your fitness journey can not only increase your chances of reaching your goals, but it can make fitness fun. Goals take time and perseverance to achieve. You can easily lose motivation in the process and be tempted to throw in the towel when no one is watching. 

After choosing an accountability partner, make them aware of your goals, create a plan as to how you’ll support each other, and push each other to stay committed. With an accountability partner, you’re able to receive social support that reinforces your goal, which has been shown to increase positive outcomes. On days when your motivation is low, having someone to support you, can help boost your drive to keep going.

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