Of three top ways in which you can make life better – decreasing stress, reducing pain and sleeping better – exercise helps you do all three. When you are ready to improve the quality of your life and make exercise plans, you’ll want to form a daily exercise routine. How? Remember that an exercise lifestyle is lived one moment at a time and that quality of life is revealed by each choice you make in each moment.

Simply know this: Your thoughts and feelings support your actions, your actions support your steps, your steps support your behavior and your repeated behavior becomes your lifestyle. Take a look at how the small choices lead to a lifestyle:

Become aware of emotions you associate with the experience of exercise. Tune into your well-being and joy when you are active. Choosing to be active is much easier when your mind says, “This is fun!” or “This feels good!”

Visualize walking around the block to get your mail and playing with your kids or grandkids. Let those thoughts inspire creativity, so you begin to make other feel-good exercise plans.

Live in the present, which is the only “place” where you can be active. Actions happen now, not in the past or future. In-the-moment opportunities, such as walking up the ramp at the mall instead of taking the escalator, riding a bike instead of driving or taking a walk on your lunch break instead of gobbling fast food, provide ways for you to fit in fitness and should be part of your daily exercise routine.

Create your belief system, make your choices and take a step. After experiencing the endorphin release caused by physical activity that can reduce pain, believe that exercise can make you feel better and make exercise plans. Choose to be active over being still. Accumulated in-the-moment choices are the actions that become the steps that establish a lifestyle.

Cultivate and engage. Each day we engage in activities that care for our body, such as taking a shower, eating, sleeping and brushing our teeth. These actions have become a lifestyle and, more than likely, there are aspects of each one that you enjoy while you are engaged in it. The same can be said for exercise. As you cultivate a relationship with exercise, you create and live an exercise lifestyle, and your actions – and life – become extremely rewarding and enjoyable.

-Karen Danner, author of Life Moves, Exercise for the Love of the Lifestyle

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