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5 Things I Learned from Exercising Every Day For a Year

That's right. 365 days in a row. An entire YEAR of exercising every day. No breaks. 

It started as a New Years resolution I made on a whim. "I'm going to work out every day this year." That's what I told my husband, who's extremely competitive and thrives on routine. So he responded, "Me too." I laughed, because my first thought was -- no way. He'll never make it. I might not even make it... I was wrong.

What I learned from working out 365 days in a row:

1. You can always make time for what's important.

We didn't stop living our lives to exercise every day. I was in grad school with a demanding schedule and a 60 minute commute, we moved from an apartment to a house, and we traveled at least 1 weekend a month (including a longer trip to Hawaii). We managed to fit it in every single time. Granted, there were days we didn't exercise until 11:30pm, but it still happened. We found ourselves running sprints at rest stops, picking hotels based on their gym equipment, and getting up 30 minutes earlier if we needed to. 

2. Gentle exercise has as many benefits as super-aggressive-crossfit-monster-exercise

We didn't just run sprints for 365 days in a row. We had to mix it up with lighter, and less intense exercises for our safety (and our sanity). One weekend in downtown Chicago, all we did was walk. Ok, it was 10 miles per day so we were actually very tired by the end. We could've cabbed everywhere, but instead we burned calories and saved our money (for better things, like shopping and eating... *no brainer*). There were days when we did 30 minutes of yoga, or found a dance video on Youtube. Even though we took some "light" days, we still reaped benefits. It's important to note that changing up activities allowed us to avoid injury for an entire year. Stress fractures and muscular imbalances are no joke! Those less intense days were needed for our bodies to rest and replenish, but we kept moving no matter what. 

3. You don't have to spend a lot to get fit

When we did this, we were on a grad school budget (ahem, super poor...  living on strictly borrowed money). I learned that you definitely don't need to spend hundreds to get fit because we simply didn't have the *cash money* to spend. We lucked out because we had a few months in an apartment with a gym, but that didn't save us entirely. The rest of the year we resorted to running and biking outside, a few handy apps, DVDs, and Youtube videos. The Sworkit app got my gold star. The no-equipment-needed circuit training was easy to take on the road, or do in my living room. Did I mention that running, walking, and stretching are free?

4. Fitness fights illness

Ok, so this wasn't a double blind, case controlled. lab experiment... but we DID NOT get sick. (The real labs rats are looking into it) - I swear to you it was our saving grace. We're pretty stellar at avoiding illness in our house. We eat well, we take our multivitamins and probiotics, and we don't smoke. (I know, brag brag brag, brag brag brag, you'll get over it.)  BUT our lack of colds/flu was even more obvious during those 365 days of exercise. We had a lot of life changes, and neither of us managed to crash (that year, anyway...). We took care of ourselves, and it showed. Healthy insides make healthy outsides, right?

5. Support = Success

 We had to tell people what we were doing. Not to show off, but to provide reasons for the following scenarios:

  • Visiting friends out of town, and sneaking out of their house to run at 6am before they wake up
  • Abruptly leaving a 4 hour dinner with your family (they just love dinner, ok?) to go do yoga, then come back... and they were still having drinks and dessert! Seriously, they love dinner...
  • Doing crunches and planks in an airport during a layover
  • Asking to borrow your neighbor's dog to take it for a walk

We told people about our goal because they asked, but in the end it kept us accountable. We probably wouldn't have made it if other people weren't aware.  My dad would ask "IS THIS THE DAY THE STREAK ENDS?!" We had a reason to yell "NO" and do something about it! Our friends and family were awesome, and let us fit our fitness in whether it involved them or not. We also had the added support of competing with each other. Romantic right? Constantly trying to prove you're better than the other person? Ok, that might not work for everyone, but there was something about the contest that kept us focused. 

My recommendations:

  • Find a buddy. You don't need to go get hitched to your buddy like I did, in fact, you could probably just call your mom. Keeping other people in the loop motivates you to stick with it. 
  • Mix it up. Get really intense and push yourself! But back off, and rest with lighter activities to avoid injury (and going crazy).
  • Stay fueled. Exercising more means your body needs to make more energy (in nerd world, it's called ATP). To make energy you need vitamins so your cells can USE your food. The Power Multi is specifically formulated for energy production (no caffeine needed!), and paired with a clean unprocessed diet will help you keep the fire burning.

So how did the streak end?

I didn't fail, but I did get beat. My husband exercised a month longer than I did. I stopped on January 2nd of the following year, and that competitive punk made it to February ;)

So do I recommend exercising every day? Yes. But take that with a grain of salt, because exercising doesn't always mean barbells, sprints, and crossfit. MOVEMENT is key to life, and living every day is kind of important.

Hannah Anderson
Hannah Anderson