How to Build Self-Discipline Lesson #1: How to Form a Habit
15 Fitness Habits You Need to Establish In Your 20s
Of course your twenties are a time to live it up, explore your options and do what you're crazy about. But they're also a time to get into the habit of, well, practicing healthy fitness habits—because doing so will ensure that you're healthier later on, according to a new German study published in the journalPsychology of Sport and Exercise. (See also: 30 Health Choices You Should Make Before You Turn 30.)
For the study, researchers tracked over 500 adults for over 18 years, and found that people who were healthiest in their young adult years were also healthiest over time. So we reached out to some fitness experts to find out their best tips for what 20-somethings should pay attention to. Your mission? Start doing all of these things—right now. Your future self will thank you!
The experts we spoke with: Greg Justice, an exercise physiologist and author of Mind Your Own Fitness; Ellen Breeding, an exercise physiologist at AYC Fitness in Kansas City; Irene Lewis-McCormick, certified strength and conditioning specialist and author ofA Woman's Guide to Fitness & Strength
Sounds obvious, right? It's not. Most people still don't drink enough, regardless of how many times they read it on the interwebs. Here's a tip: Every time you check Instagram, chug some H2O. It adds up! And if that doesn't work, definitely check out these 10 ways to drink more water.
This is huge! Do not get into the habit of working out seven days a week, or even attempting to do so. Incorporate a rest day into your routine so your body has time to recover—or else you could seriously injure yourself, or in the least experience some diminishing returns from your workouts. For more intel about how to recover and refuel, check out our recovery center.
The key to circuit training and weight lifting is that you have to use proper form - otherwise you risk injuring yourself at worst, or not getting much out of your workout at best. So at least once, invest in a personal trainer (most gyms offer a complimentary session when you join). Use that time to ask as many questions as you can, so you have a better understanding re: what to do. And when you hit up a fitness class, no shame it and ask as many questions as you can about how to do the moves right—hey, you paid to be there!
Your body craves a combo of carbs and protein within 30 minutes of working out. The carbs help give you energy, while the protein helps repair torn and stretched muscles. A good choice: low-fat chocolate milk—it's got a great combo of protein and carbs that replenishes your body after you sweated those very things out. For more details, check out The Best Workout Recovery Drinks.
You know how your gym offers all those classes with scary names, like "Chisel Extreme" and "Booty Kickin' Step?" Go to them. Now's the time to try out all of your options, so you can figure out what works for you and what you're more likely to stick with down the road, when things like babies, marriage, promotions, and so on make working out a bit more complicated.
Three to five minutes on the front end and the back end is enough—but you've gotta actually do it. Otherwise, your muscles tighten up and you're setting yourself up for injury later, especially as you get older. Just be sure not to make these 5 common stretching mistakes while you're at it.
One of the best things you can do for your body? Pay attention to what it's trying to tell you. Practicing mindfulness can help teach you how to tune in to the things your body needs and is feeling, whether that's while you're eating ("I'm full!") or while you're working out ("this doesn't feel right"). Use these tricks to learn how to be more mindful and to live in the now.
Of course happy hours and weird warehouse loft parties are fun, and they're an essential part of being in your twenties. But if that's all your friends wanna do, that's not going to be super helpful when it comes to meeting your fitness goals. Be sure to also cultivate some friendships with people who are interested in being active, too—you'll be more likely to follow suit and stay motivated. Check out the 6 Pros and Cons of Working Out with a Friend to learn more about it.
Think of exercise as your time to release your pent-up energy, and have fun with it! Whether you try a hip-hop dance class, schedule a run with friends, or make a new playlist that you can't wait to use at the gym, it's all about seeing fitness as a fun way to spend your time—not a drag. Actually enjoying your fit lifestyle is what'll help you keep with it, long after your twenties are a distant vision in the rearview mirror.
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