Getting the recommended 150 minutes per week of exercise is not an easy task sometimes. Maybe you view exercise as a chore and just don’t like to do it. Or perhaps you push that workout to the sidelines because other things take priority in your life. And maybe, as with many cancer survivors, your memory fails you. Sometimes you simply forget that you haven’t worked out in a couple of days.
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Time flies, and life happens. I completely understand. I have been there. So, I know that getting those workouts in can be tough.
But what if I told you there was a way for you not to think about it anymore. What if exercise just became something you do every day, like brushing your teeth? Is that possible? Is that even safe?
Let’s explore the concept of an Exercise Streak.
What is an Exercise Streak?
Keep your clothes on! It isn’t THAT kind of streaking.
An exercise streak is simply doing an exercise every day without fail for a number of days. It can be any exercise or a variety of exercises. The only rules, except for an official run streak, are those you set for yourself.
What Kinds of Exercise Streaks are there?
There are many different kinds of exercise streaks. Name an exercise and you can likely make a streak out of it. Some aren’t really thought of as streaks but categorized as ‘challenges”.
You have seen those challenges, right? Most are about 30 days in length. A popular one is “30 days to a beach body” that has you doing workouts, mostly body weight exercises, every single day for a month. Some give you the whole program at once. Others will send you emails every day for a set number of days. These are all mini streaks.
Some people walk daily, but don’t really think of this as a streak. It is a streak, if done daily without fail. And if they kept track of the days and how far they walk, it could prove to be very impressive.
One of the more formalized exercise streaks is the Running Streak, which is gaining in popularity. There is even an official run streak registry for those who have run a minimum of a mile every day for at least 365 days.
What is a Run Streak?
I was first introduced to the idea of an exercise streak when I took up running every day. When I started running years ago, I found that I felt good afterwards. Running took away the bone pains that my cancer medications created. But these beneficial effects didn’t last long. After 2 or 3 days, my bone pains would come back. So, I thought, why not feel good every day. Why not run every day. I could do that, right? If I kept the runs slow and short?
Many people said this wasn’t possible. They said that you needed rest between runs to let your body heal. So many seasoned runners told me that I would wear myself out. But I hung onto the fact that I felt better through out the day after I ran. And I wanted to feel good everyday.
Then I found the United States Running Streak Association. Running every day is a thing. There is a whole organization devoted to it. And there are a lot of runners that run every single day. Some have streaks going on for years and even decades. I joined their Facebook group for support and never looked back.
“The official definition of a running streak is to run at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day. Running may occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill.” – United States Running Streak Association
I am now approaching my 1,000th day of running at least 1 mile. And I don’t plan on stopping.
What are the Benefits of an Exercise Streak?
Why should you even consider doing an exercise streak? There are some great benefits for joining this trend.
The Streak Becomes Your Motivation
Once you get to a certain number of days, you don’t want to quit. You don’t want to miss a day and go back down to day 1. Missing just one day of workouts means that your streak has ended. To start again, you start at day 1.
For me, that means that the past 900 some days are lost. I don’t want that to happen. So, I am motivated to keep going and run every single day.
A Streak Eliminates Excuses
Because I don’t want to end my streak, I find a way to run every day. If I am not feeling well or just don’t feel like running, too bad. To not run means my streak is over. So, I run.
And trust me, there have been plenty of days I didn’t feel like running. But I never regretted getting out there and doing it. Not one day did I feel sorry for running. And I am sure that I would be very disappointed with myself for missing a run and ending my streak.
A Streak Strengthens Your Commitment
So, I am committed to my streak. I don’t want it to end. I want to be able to say that I ran 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 days in a row.
Each day that I run adds one more day onto my streak. And that makes me want to run the next day, to add yet another day onto it.
An Exercise Streak Establishes a Routine
In the beginning, it was hard to run everyday. I wasn’t use to it mentally or physically. It took about 3 months before it just became a habit. Now, running is simply a part of my day. I don’t question IF I will run. I know I will get a run in sometime during that 24 hours. So, I schedule it in.
Exercise Becomes Easier to Schedule
I usually check the weather first thing in the morning. I pick the best predicted time for a run based on my availability. And I run during that day’s run time.
I find it is easier to schedule if you workout every day. This is partly because it is all just a habit now, a part of my daily routine. When I was only running a couple times per week, I would forget to get a run in. I would forget how many days I ran that week. And I would miss out on my much needed 150 minutes of cardio exercise some weeks.
An Exercise Streak Improves your Adaptability
I have become good at adapting to whatever life throws at me. Travelling, I have adapted by running in airports and in hotel rooms. Running everyday has forced me to run in places I never thought I would run. And, I have discovered that I really like this way of touring a new place.
When I am not feeling good, I slow it down and keep it short, but I get it done. I have run through colds and flu. I have run on days before and after medical tests and procedures, such as a colonoscopy. I just modify my workout a little to make it easier on myself, but I get it done.
Disclaimer: Always make sure you have the okay from your doctor before you consider exercising when you are not feeling well. I had the doc’s thumbs up for my situation. My doctors are aware that I am streak running, and they support it.
An Exercise Streak Leads to other good habits
Since I have been introduced to streaking, I have started other streaks. I recently started a walking streak, as part of a summer challenge I entered. I have done “veggie with every meal” and “drink more water” streaks. Streaks are good ways to build habits.
A Streak Improves Your Fitness
Just as brushing your teeth every day keeps your mouth healthy and improves your smile. Exercising every day keeps your body healthy and improves your fitness.
Running everyday for over 2 years now has seen my fitness improve tremendously. What was once a hard run, has now become my easy run.
Fitness is about consistency and building strength and endurance over time. And I am, indeed, improving slowly over time. And this makes me proud of myself.
An Exercise Streak Gives You Satisfaction of Accomplishment
Being proud of yourself is important for self-esteem and mental wellbeing. And the confidence gained from maintaining a streak spills over into other aspects of life.
What does it take to be an Exercise Streaker?
Not everyone wants to do an exercise streak. And, of course, that is okay. We all have our own methods for getting that recommended 150 minutes per week in. It does require you to have certain traits to be successful. Let’s look at those traits now.
You should have a bit of experience with the exercise you want to do every day.
First, if you haven’t done the exercise much, how do you know you will enjoy it? Certainly, try out some exercises and see which ones are best suited to you.
Second, if you are not accustomed to the workouts yet, then you will be putting an extra strain on your body by doing the exercise every day.
Start by doing the exercises several times per week first before jumping right into a streak.
You have to WANT to do it. Maintaining an exercise streak takes dedication. There are things constantly threatening to derail your efforts. So, you have to be passionate about it.
You need to be persistent to maintain an exercise streak. You need to be able to say to yourself “I WILL get it done today”. Do you have the resolve to not give up when it is hard or you don’t feel like it?
Perseverance and Adaptability
You need to overcome those things that threaten to derail your streak. Not feeling well, a delayed airplane, picking your child up from school early, or your boss asking you to work late are all examples of legitimate events that can end a streak. You need to find ways to work around these unexpected events that can and do happen in life.
I usually have a plan B for getting my workout in during the day. Getting it done before the day even starts is also an option.
Being creative and finding solutions to life’s unexpected situations are a part of the fun.
I had to run circles in a hotel room at 6:00 am before a meeting because the gym’s treadmill was broken.
A flight delay had me landing in my hometown after midnight. So, I ran up and down the aisles in the airport, in dress shoes pulling luggage behind me. I had to get my run done before the plane departed or my streak would end.
My husband, who is also run streaking, and I pulled into a rest area, changed clothes in the car and ran in the parking lot when on a road trip last year.
Some of the other stories from run streakers are fascinating, awe-inspiring, and hilarious. There are some creative streakers out there. And their stories are much crazier than mine.
Commitment and Determination
Being creative means you have the ability to find ways to get your workout done. But it also means you need to be committed and determined to continue your streak. As I said, ever changing life circumstances will try to end your streak. If you want to workout every day, you need to just do it. Be committed and determined to see it through.
Now, I didn’t say you need to be stubborn. There is a bit of that happening in the exercise streaking world too. You do need common sense and the ability to let it go when it is not safe to continue. If it is not in your best interest to keep going, then don’t.
If you are injured or could potentially put your health in jeopardy, then stop. A streak should be about health and wellness. Don’t push it beyond this. There is nothing in life more important than your health and well-being.
How do I Start an Exercise Streak?
If you have been doing the workouts for a while and want to try streaking, here are some tips to get you going.
Set a Streak Minimum Goal
Determine some realistic baseline minimum goals for the exercise that you will be doing every day. How long do you want to streak for?
The key here are REALISTIC Goals. If you are doing a run streak, is it realistic for you to set out to run 5 miles every single day? You may be capable of running 5 miles, but can you do it every single day without fail? What if you aren’t feeling well? Can you run 5 miles if you are under the weather?
If you are doing a body weight challenge, is it realistic for you to be working out for an hour every day without fail? Maybe try for a 10-minute goal. You can always do more on those days you feel good.
You could do a shorter streak challenge, such as a 30-day body weight workout. I did a 30-day plank challenge in December with my friends.
Or you could do an open-ended challenge where you set a series of goals. For example, my run streak initially was only supposed to be a year, then I went for 500 days, and now I am going for 1000 days. I will re-evaluate when I reach 1000 days.
My Goal: I will _______________________ every single day without fail for ____________ days.
Start Your Exercise Streak Easy and Slow
Be honest with yourself and keep your expectations realistic. You want to start slowly. The last thing you want to do is go full-force and be sore, making next day’s workout miserable. You won’t last.
Start at your current level. In fact, start a little under your current abilities. Make the first workouts easy, so that you are more likely to continue on. You don’t want to be sore the next day.
I started my run streak by running my minimum of 2 km. For the first month, I ran very slowly, flat and on a treadmill. I let my body adjust to the routine of running every day because I was in this for the long haul. I didn’t want to over do it and end my streak before it even got going.
Increase the Intensity Gradually
If your goal is to improve your fitness, you will need to increase the difficulty of your workouts as your body adjusts. The best way to do this is to check in with yourself every week. If the workout seems super easy, then increase it a little.
Experts say to increase by only 10 % every week. Give your body time to adjust.
Add in Some Drop-Down Days
Plan to reward yourself with easy or “rest” days. You shouldn’t be going at your workouts hard every day. That will just make it miserable, wear you down, leave you open to injury and end your streak early.
A good rule of thumb is 80% easy and 20% hard workouts in a given week.
You should throw in a super easy workout once or twice a week too. This will be your “rest day”. This gives your body a chance to heal. Experts call this ‘active recovery’. These super easy workouts are best done the day after a hard workout.
And every third week, should be a drop-down week. This means that all your exercises are easy for that week. Again, it gives your body a break and a chance to heal before you up the intensity in the fourth week.
So, it should look something like this:
- Week 1: Easy. Ease into your routine
- Week 2: 10 % increase
- Week 3: Easy Drop-Down Recovery Week
- Week 4: Week 2’s intensity
- Week 5: 10 % increase
- Week 6: Easy Drop-Down Recovery Week
- Week 7: Week 5’s intensity
- Week 8: 10 % Increase
- Week 9: Easy Drop-Down Recovery Week
- And so on…
Alternate Your Workouts
If you are doing strength training, you can still workout every day. But don’t work the same muscle groups. One day work on your legs, then switch to arms the next day and perhaps your core the following day.
You can also do this with a cardio exercise streak. If you are not doing an official run streak, you could alternate running, walk or biking. Just be sure to do a cardio activity every day to maintain a cardio streak.
Your streak, your rules.
Feed Your Body Well
Make sure you feed your body for the exercise you are doing. Eat healthy to supply your body with healing nutrients such as good proteins, healthy fats and wholesome vegetables, fruits and grains.
If you are doing a run streak or other sustained cardio exercise, you may need to increase your calories to compensate for burning more.
If weight loss is your goal, be smart about balancing calories needed for healing and being in a calorie-deficit for losing weight. You may want to talk to a dietician to help you determine your specific needs.
Is an Exercise Streak Safe?
Exercise streaks can be a safe and effective way to routinely workout. But, you have to be smart about it. Here are some tips to keep it safe.
- Let your doctors know your plans and listen to their input.
- Listen to what your body is telling you.
- Most of your workouts should be easy.
- Don’t skip warm-up and cool-down routines. These are important to help your body recover from your workouts.
- Eat well and stay hydrated.
- If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out promptly by a medical professional.
- It is perfectly okay to bring it down a notch or two if you aren’t feeling up to it.
- Don’t be stubborn. End your streak if your health and well-being are in jeopardy
- Enjoy it.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to try an Exercise Streak?