Welcome to your 20s–a time to happily indulge in a lot of arguably not-so-healthy habits like midnight pizza deliveries, over-caffeinated workdays and far too many nights that don’t end until 4 a.m. But amid these youthful revelries, your 20s are also a time to start establishing some healthy routines that will benefit you now and well into the next several decades. Insert a regular fitness regimen.
While being a workout rookie can make breaking a sweat feel like a chore, incorporating routine fitness into your lifestyle while you’re young will pay off big time in the years to come. And once you discover which workouts empower you to reach your fitness goals, hitting the gym doesn’t have to be a burden. So, read on for the tips and tools you’ll need to start making fitness a part of your day-to-day life now and start setting up your body and mind for a healthier future.
1. Make Time for Fitness in Your Weekly Routine
The hardest part of establishing a new workout routine? Actually, setting aside the time to break a sweat. Reserve time for your week’s workouts in advance, and you’ll be more likely to make them a priority. While scheduling workouts into your calendar may seem excessive at first, penciling in your sweat sessions just like you would a doctor’s appointment or a dinner with friends can keep you accountable and minimize excuses to skip the gym. And if you need more motivation to stick to your fitness regimen, try signing up for a few workout classes so you’ve dedicated not only your time but your money to staying in shape, giving you a little extra incentive to get moving.
2. Start Flexing Your Muscles with Strength Training
Looking for a workout that can enhance your mood, build muscle and result in a healthier metabolism? Look no further than a good old-fashioned set of dumbbells. While strength training might seem reserved for heavy-lifters and CrossFit enthusiasts, even those completely new to fitness can benefit from adding some weighted movements into their workout routine. Learning the proper form for a few basic strength-training exercises now will build a great foundation for future workouts, allowing you to add weight as you build muscle while providing your body with the lasting benefits of pumping a little iron.
3. Try Both Low- and High-Intensity Interval Workouts
When you’re just beginning to dip your toes into fitness, navigating all the different exercise programs out there can be overwhelming, especially when you’re hearing shorthand like LIIT and HIIT. But we’re here to break it down for you. While both types of exercises consist of periods of elevating your heart rate and periods of rest, LIIT (low-intensity interval training) doesn’t get your heart rate quite as high as its counterpart, HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The main takeaway when comparing these two camps of calorie-burning is essentially that while you can reap the same health benefits from both workouts, it’ll just take you more time to achieve the same result doing a low-intensity workout versus high-intensity training.
All that being said, it depends entirely on your personal preference which pace and type of training works for you. So why not give both a try? For low-intensity fitness, try breaking a sweat in a barre class or rolling out your mat in the yoga studio. And to push your limits with a HIIT workout, check out classes at your local gym or search online for a high-intensity routine you can do at home. Take your 20s to explore all the ways to stay in shape and to find a fitness routine you can actually enjoy.
4. Discover Your Favorite Form of Cardio
When you think of cardio, the first thing that comes to mind might be an intense multi-mile run, which is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Sure, running is a great form of cardio that can shred calories and whip your body into shape, but it’s not the only effective way to incorporate aerobic exercise into your life. And with all the health benefits cardio has to offer, it’s important to find a form of this heart-pumping workout you won’t mind working into your routine.
Cardio workouts can improve heart health, lower blood pressure and help you lose weight, and if you stick with it in the years to come, it can also provide vital advantages for the future you. Studies have shown regular cardio exercise can protect brain tissue and lower the risk of falls for older adults, giving you all the more reason to establish a solid cardio workout routine while you’re young. So even if running isn’t your thing, give indoor cycling, swimming or dance-cardio hybrids like Zumba a try. You’ll not only see results in the short-term, but you’ll do your future self a favor, too.
5. Get in the Habit of Hydrating
As much as we all love coffee, and probably fuel up on several cups throughout the day, it’s important to mix in plenty of water to keep our bodies healthy and hydrated. And while it’s easy to forget your daily dose of H20, getting into the habit of drinking your eight glasses a day will seriously benefit your body in the long-run. Plus, trying to power through a workout without proper hydration will not only keep you from reaching your peak performance, but it can pose serious safety risks, as well. To remind yourself to drink up, purchase a cute and eco-friendly water bottle to have on hand during every sweat session.
6. Make Stretching an Essential Part of Your Workout Routine
When you’re eager to hit the gym, power through your workout and then immediately hit the showers, it can be easy to bypass a good pre- and post-gym stretch. However, getting into the habit of stretching both before and after a workout is critical to protecting yourself from injury. Avoid straining your body and getting sidelined from the gym by using your exercise mat and making a few simple stretches a regular part of your routine. Because just a couple of minutes of stretching now can save you from a lot of pain later.
Stay Fit for the Future You
Establishing solid fitness routines in your 20s is the best way to be proactive about your future health and well-being. But that doesn’t mean you have to ditch your midnight pizza and iced coffee obsession. You can still enjoy all the perks of being young, but with that extra reassurance that you’re setting up your body and mind for a healthier tomorrow.