We all know exercise is a necessity. Everything and everyone tells us so. But how do we fit it in along with work, family, kids, etc. etc. Lifestyles are increasingly busy, time is scarce and motivation generally lags. Have you been there?
Nobody exercises because it’s comfortable or convenient. It just doesn’t happen – it’s not in our nature. We do it for a higher goal: weight loss, less stress, heart health, better sleep, or for some, just for the adrenaline rush. We embrace or endure the uncomfortable or the inconvenience with our eyes set on the goal.
The guideline is that we should aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense activity five+ days a week, or vigorous activity for at least 20 minutes at least three days a week. Yikes.
If you work out like this – yay you! You are in the top 20%, good job, keep it up!
But if you are in the 80% of Americans who do not get the recommended exercise, listen up. There is good news. We can start small. It can be done in 10 minute bouts, just 10 minutes at a time.
So here are a few tips to get you going.
Lose the all-or-nothing attitude
You can’t go from 0 to 80 and sustain it, especially if you’ve spent a long while at zero. Don’t force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate. A little exercise is better than no exercise. For most people, moderate exercise is the most beneficial for overall health.
Moderate activity means you are breathing a little heavier. But you should still be able to chat with your workout buddy. Just don’t try to break out in song… more on that later.
Also your body should feel warmer as you move, but not overheated or sweating buckets. Moderate is good.
If a friend told you they were beginning their trek of exercise, you’d support and encourage. Do the same for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your lack of motivation. Look at this as a new day and a new routine.
Check your expectations
You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly get back in shape. Expecting too much, too soon, only leads to frustration. And frustration leads to quitting. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t do or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals.
Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident. Don’t pick activities like running or lifting weights just because you think that’s what you should do. Pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste. It is okay to start small.
Create automatic triggers
In the same way triggers can create our bad habits, they can greatly influence and help us succeed in good habits. Research shows that the most consistent exercise rely on triggers. Triggers are simply reminders. A time of day, place, or cue that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decision to be made.
- The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk.
- You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym.
- You see your sneakers by the bed and you put them on to run. Find ways to build triggers into your day to make exercise an automatic response.
Second, think outside the gym. If you are not used to fitness, gyms can be intimidating and remember, we are looking for moderate exercise.
- Take an early morning walk.
- Walk a lunch with a co-worker, helps you de-stress and gets your steps in.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Climbing the stairs is a great weight loss exercise.
- Park farther away instead of right up front. The extra walking adds up.
- If the distance is doable, ditch the car whenever possible – walk or bike instead.
- Move at work. In stead of email, walk to their office – you get steps and improve communications.
- Walk while you’re talking on the phone.
- Get a dog! Seriously. Steps. Studies show in a one year period, new dog owners who walk their dogs lose on the average 14.4lbs, and the dog stays healthy.
- 10-12 bicep curls done 3-times a day will stave off the underarm angel wings (it’s ok, you ladies know what I’m talking about.) Don’t have dumbbells, use cat litter or laundry detergent.
- Have dumbbells? Wear a headset instead of holding the phone so you can use bicep curl at your desk.
Off-time opportunities can include: horseback riding, ballroom dancing, hiking, rollerblading, paddle boarding, kayaking, martial arts, water aerobics or even activity-based video games like Wii and Kinect.
And, make chores count. House and yard work are a workout – it all counts.
Exercise can be a fun time to socialize with friends and working out with others can help keep you motivated. Whatever it takes, get some movement…start small and build.
Oh, and the part about singing while you walk or workout, here’s some inspiration for you. Enjoy!