5 Ways to Elevate Your Wellbeing This National Fitness Day

Our fitness is crucial to our overall wellbeing. Try these five activities to celebrate National Fitness Day.

Joshua Cox-Steib
Joshua Cox-Steib is a sociologist and freelance writer. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with his wife and their menagerie of pets. Joshua holds a degree in sociology from the University of Tulsa and worked as a behavioral analyst before becoming a professional writer.
Joshua Cox-Steib
6 min read
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Starting in 2017, the first Saturday of May officially became National Fitness Day. The day's purpose is to highlight the importance of physical activity and fitness activities. Fitness Day is meant to educate and encourage people to try new ways of staying active and pursuing health and fitness

Few things correlate to good health as strongly as movement and exercise. Not only does staying active help to keep you physically healthy, but it can also help with mental and emotional well-being. Before diving into National Fitness Day and starting a new routine, though, it's wise to take a little time to research what activities might work best for you.

Set your SMART fitness goals

Fitness involves a lot of time, consistency and maintenance. Exercising regularly over a period of years, even if only once a week, is likely to have better health outcomes than working out every other day for a few months and then stopping. To start, it's essential to assess your current fitness levels so you can evaluate how to best move forward towards your goals.

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For the best fitness plan, your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. By focusing on these constraints, you can better craft a fitness plan that suits your body, life and needs. Specific outcomes set your destination, while keeping it measurable allows you to track your progress and ensure it's achievable, which helps avoid burnout. 

In the same manner, ensuring your goals are relevant and time-bound increases the likelihood of getting what you want from your fitness journey in a reasonable amount of time.

When crafting your fitness plan, following these guidelines can help you meet your goals reasonably while ensuring they work towards the outcomes you want. At this point, it can be wise to consult a physical trainer or other relevant expert. By providing them with your current fitness level and your SMART goals, they can help create a fitness plan tailored to you and designed to meet them.

Try a new physical activity

There are many ways to exercise, and there are several different body parts that these exercises can focus on. Whether you're new to your fitness journey or have been at it for a while, most of us can benefit from expanding our exercise and activity routines. This National Fitness Day can be an excellent time to try out new approaches for workouts. For instance, if you aren't already incorporating cardio, strength training, flexibility or balance exercises, these can be a great place to start.

A full-body fitness routine intended to improve your health and physical ability works best when it includes these workout targets. Not only does using a broad approach like this improve your overall health, but these different targeted types of exercise often work together to increase your ability in each category. For instance, cardio exercises -- endurance training -- can help you to perform better during strength training sessions.

When looking for new exercises or activities to incorporate into your fitness journey, you may want to consider the benefits of outdoor activities and group fitness classes. Studies have shown that spending time outside can improve physical, mental and social well-being. Likewise, participating in group fitness classes can help you stay motivated and accountable while creating a sense of community and providing access to professional trainers.

Don't forget about your nutrition and hydration

Woman drinking water from a water bottle.
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No matter how committed to exercise you are, the benefits will be limited by how well we tend to our bodies. Without proper nutrition and hydration (PDF), the benefits of exercise are lessened, and one's capacity to perform these workouts can also be severely impacted. That's why people say a good workout routine starts with a balanced diet.

Your body uses a plethora of vitamins, minerals and more to function and maintain itself, but also to build new muscle. If it doesn't get the fuel it needs, your body won't be as well-equipped to help you meet your fitness goals. Experts recommend minimizing sugar, focusing on nutrient-rich foods, consuming lots of protein, ensuring you eat fruits and vegetables, taking proper portion sizes and eating balanced meals.

Of equal importance is hydration. Drinking plain water consistently throughout the day is critical to staying hydrated and healthy. Indeed, experts strongly recommend hydrating up to several hours before exercising. To stay hydrated, consider keeping a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day, drinking water with every meal and keeping water with you while active.

Take care of your mind

Research has long found positive correlations between physical fitness and mental health. Specifically, scientists have noticed that engaging in physical fitness often results in improved mental health. Exercise and physical activity have even been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research has even shown that physical activity can improve cognitive function, lead to better sleep and improve overall mood.

Stress is a recurring problem of the human experience that can harm both the mind and body. One of the crucial benefits of exercise and physical activity is reducing stress. To lessen your stress more, you can pursue mindfulness practices and incorporate various stress-reducing activities into your daily routine. Mindfulness meditations can often be overlapped with some of these activities, like stretching, meditating, going for walks, gardening and more.

Read more: Best Mental Health Apps

Man meditating in his room.
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Adding self-care routines into your life can reduce stress and improve your overall sense of well-being. An excellent start to these practices can be to focus on setting a healthy sleep schedule, getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, working on a positive and gratitude-focused mindset, spending time each day relaxing and staying connected with your community. Self-care does not need to be limited to these suggestions, but experts often recommend them as effective self-care practices.

Hosting a fitness-themed event or challenge

Fitness journeys are often better with company. As highlighted earlier, exercise with a community can have increased benefits when compared to doing activities alone. In addition to what was already discussed, some researchers have begun identifying the nature of communal exercise as a type of social reward and support system. To celebrate National Fitness Day this year, consider gathering your friends and family for a fitness-themed event.

A fitness-themed event could be as simple as getting together to go through and share specific exercise routines. However, you can get more elaborate and utilize physically active games and other fitness-focused group activities. Even something as mundane as a game of tag or capture the flag can easily be converted into a communal fitness event.

Before crafting and hosting your event, consider asking all of your invitees what types of physically active games and activities they might be interested in. Doing that can allow you to craft an event that incorporates some of each person's interests while also ensuring that you don't focus on activities that only a few of your guests can do. Remember to keep it fun; laughter and relaxation are much better for our health than tension and competition.

Too long; didn't read?

Physical activity and exercise are vital components of a healthy body and mind. Numerous research efforts have underscored the extreme importance of physical activity in preventing severe illness, maintaining a positive mood and improving cognitive functionality.

National Fitness Day aims to educate people about the significance of fitness while encouraging them to engage in regular, healthy movement. For these reasons, it's vital to prioritize your fitness journey and to incorporate aspects of this self-care into your daily life. Even simple activities, like walking or jogging, can go a long way toward helping us to stay active, fit and healthy.

Don't beat yourself up if you have difficulty staying focused and motivated on your fitness journey. Instead, consider shifting some of your focus to mental and emotional self-care or finding a fitness accountability buddy. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.