I’m going to take a wild guess that your daily routine has been completely obliterated by the change of events happening in our world.

I’m also guessing this adjustment has challenged every facet of your life including physical activity and how you engage in it. Gyms are closed, parks are limiting access, and group classes of physical activity are no longer being held.

This can leave many of us without our normal choice of exercise, and it certainly impacts our health.

We are all being called to change, and change is not something that many of us welcome willingly.

This period of modification comes as we redefine the meaning of health and in how we look at this challenge as we are limited in our normal choices of physical activity.

By far one of the biggest changes facing our physical health is our normal routine. Routines are important to establish because they allow habits to be formed and when different types of physical activity are formed into habits then meaningful, purposeful health goals are accomplished.

In short, we want to create a habit of physical activity, and it needs to become a part of our daily routine.

Routines are best formed through consistency over time. So when establishing a new routine it is best to think about the long term and not just the day. Here are a few basic tips to reestablish a fitness routine:

  • Pick a time or part of the day that you can consistently engage in some sort of physical activity. For example, this could be first thing in the morning or sometime in the evening after dinner. Whatever time you choose, it should be a time that works best for you and your family.
  • Make exercise fun. The key to finding an exercise that you engage in consistently, accomplishes your goals and improves your health is finding the physical activity that you genuinely enjoy. That is why there are so many options and different ways to accomplish the same goal. Some people love swimming for their cardiovascular health and others enjoy running or biking. If you keep the exercise fun, you won’t even realize you are doing it.
  • Create a physical space for exercise in your home that has minimal distractions. Since many of our normal choices in exercise are no longer available, the home is becoming the primary place of fitness engagement. Home is not typically everyone’s first choice for exercise simply because it reminds people about the many things that have yet to get done around the house (chores, cooking, projects, etc). By creating a space that has minimal distractions you are more likely to follow through with your fitness regime for the day.
  • Use chaos to your advantage. If you find you are still feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to accomplish in the day, make sure you plan out space in your daily routine for all of those things as well. For example, set time aside for chores so that mentally you know that they will get done and they don’t need to interrupt your workout. If kids are home think of creative ways to include them in your exercise. Don’t have exercise equipment? Try holding laundry detergent for extra resistance or putting on a backpack full of books when doing squats or lunges.
  • Find your motivation and keep it visible while you exercise. Finding a compelling reason for engaging in exercise is very helpful in keeping you accountable to your routine. So ask yourself the question of why you want to be healthy? Is it for a particular event (trip or occasion)? Is it to accomplish a goal (5k run, have your clothes fit better, keep up with your grandkids)? Whatever your motive is, be sure to post it in your workout space to remind you of the very reason you are engaging in exercise. So when you are struggling with that last rep or you want to dodge the workout all together, looking at your motivation can help to push you through.
  • Give yourself grace. Establishing a new routine is not an easy process and it won’t be perfect. In fact, it will probably take multiple tries before you really start to establish some consistency and even then you might need to make small changes to accomplish your goal for the day.

It is important to know that it is okay if your routine gets messed up every once in awhile. Right now there is a lot of pressure to use this period of time to be productive around the house, finish projects, and you guessed it — get in amazing body shape for summer.

While this period of time does seem opportune, don’t be fooled by unreal expectations and be sure to keep in mind realistic goals. That way when you haven’t planted the botanical garden, knitted scarves for your entire family for Christmas, or fit back into your wedding dress, you can still feel accomplished from the routine you established.

Theresa Peasley is the Wellness Center director at the Walla Walla YMCA. She has a master’s in exercise science and several certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine including certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist.