Why should I have routines?
Consistent routines are important for good health, as your circadian rhythms affect your blood pressure, sleep/wake cycle, hormone release, hunger, digestion, and body temperature, among other things. Circadian rhythms are the natural cycles that your mind and body naturally operate, regardless of external stimuli. The word, circadian, is related to “circle”, as in the length of time of 24 hours in a day. These cycles are so important to good health that the discoverers of their importance won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2017. (1) (2)
While we all have our own unique rhythms, they can be influenced by our habits. When we allow our lifestyle to disrupt our natural rhythms, it will affect our health. It’s almost like we’re rowing upstream. Our bodies have a preset program to function properly and perform all the tasks necessary for good health. When we work with our natural environment, we will naturally flow downstream with ease. But when we interfere with the ebb and flow that comes naturally, we fight against the current. It’s as if we stranded the canoe that let us slide easily and cut our way through the undergrowth with a machete. We can still get to our destination, but the journey will be MUCH harder!
The most important routine of all is your sleep schedule. This is the hardest routine for most people to establish due to our busy lives. We tend to do “one more thing” before going to bed and before we know it it’s well past our bedtime. The truth is that the later you stay up, the less productive you become. Let it wait until tomorrow. If you are well rested, you can achieve more in less time. The later you stay up, the slower you get.
A good night’s sleep has a positive influence on the hunger hormones and ensures that you eat unhealthy food less quickly. It also improves your immunity. People who sleep 6 hours or less each night are more than FOUR TIMES more likely to catch a cold than people who sleep 8 hours. Sleep is important for heart health. A study at Harvard University found that deviating your sleep schedule by more than 90 minutes doubles your risk of cardiovascular disease over the next five years. That should motivate all of us to prioritize sleep. Set a realistic time to fall asleep and stick to it. If your sleep time deviates between 60 and 90 minutes, you have a 14% higher chance of having metabolic syndrome. If your schedule is off by more than 90 minutes, your risk rises to a dramatic 58% and increases your risk of diabetes and obesity. As tempting as it is to sleep in on days when you have the chance, it’s better to stick to your routine. (3)
Having set times for your meals will improve your health by providing your body with a steady stream of energy. You’ll most likely eat healthier once you’ve set meals, because you’ll start preparing your meals instead of just grabbing what you can find. I know people who simply refuse to go shopping and cook. They don’t even have ingredients for a healthy salad or wrap in house and insist on eating every meal out. These people eat practically anything they can find that is FREE. Donuts and cupcakes at work and the candy bowl at Mom’s house all call their names because they’re always PENDANT.
All this chaos around food sets us up for binge eating and eating lots of empty calories. It’s a surefire way to increase your chances of metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. If you really hate cooking, you can still eat regularly. It takes about 5 minutes to make a steaming bowl of oatmeal with healthy fruits, nuts and seeds. You can have a cup of high-protein, 0-sugar Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit or a protein shake. Meals don’t have to be complicated. Lunch can be a pot salad prepared the night before. Load it with the protein of your choice and low-calorie dressing. Add an apple or carrot sticks for some healthy carbs. Dinner can be done in less than 30 minutes when you simply sear your egg whites, microwave a potato (sweet or white) and add a salad. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be healthy.
When I first started strength training, David told me to decide when to start training and to act like it was my job. If we think about it that way, it’s done. When we have set times to exercise, we don’t have the anxiety that comes with missed workouts and the biochemical fluctuations that come with it. Nothing relieves stress better than a hard workout of your choice. You don’t even have to “be excited about it” to benefit from it. All it takes is to get it done!
It can be challenging to schedule time for hard, effective workouts after you reach a higher fitness level because a 20 minute walk just won’t be enough, but when you first start exercising, a 20 minute walk will help. minutes you can do a lot of good and anyone can plan that. As your fitness level increases and you need more, you can have a routine to make sure you get all your workouts in a set time frame, adapted to the current demands of your schedule. As long as you get them all in you will benefit. It is better that they are a little irregular than insufficient or lacking at all. If you don’t have time for an extensive workout on any given day, look at your schedule realistically and sign it in as soon as possible. In my case, I need 4 long strength training routines and 150 minutes of cardio every week. Since I have a packed schedule and my workouts are longer now than when I first started lifting, I squeeze them in strategically. They must be prioritized.
Instruments of the trade
Routines are so much easier to establish and maintain when you use planners! One big problem with using your phone to schedule anything is that every time you pick up your phone, you’re likely to be sidetracked. Do you realize how long you can stare at Tic Toc?!? Some of these social media apps are the main reason why people can’t get their lives on track. If you’re staring at your phone for 6 hours a day, you won’t be able to exercise or eat. You probably won’t have a regular sleep schedule because you’re sitting in bed staring at your phone. Buy a paper notebook planner, the bigger the better and USE IT to plan every aspect of your life.
Learn how to set your alarm clock to wake you up and remind you of important times of the day. Establishing routines is a measure of work, hard work for some of us, but they are well worth the effort. Start today and you will be amazed at how the quality of your life improves almost immediately.
Start with the ROUTINE of establishing routines, the most important of which is putting your health above EVERYTHING. Let every decision be made based on what is your healthiest option at the time.
That one routine will improve the quality and length of your life more than anything else.
Dream big. Work hard. Make it work.
(1) Health Benefits of Having a Routine | Northwestern Medicine
(2) Circadian Rhythms Boost Your Health – Ask the Scientists
(3) Why a regular sleep schedule is important for your health – The Sleep Doctor
This post Routines for Better Health! – David’s Way to Health and Fitness was original published at “https://davidsway.blog/2022/04/12/routines-for-better-health/”