Everyone talks about how important exercise is. And it seems like some just have an exercise gene. They always have time to exercise. They enjoy running 10 miles a day (or soul cycle, or… fill in the blank). For most of us though exercise is at best a nuisance or yet another thing to feel guilty about not getting done. We all know we should be exercising daily but we have no idea how. Honestly if another perky runner tells me to just run a block to start, I might scream. Let’s face it that doesn’t work! Let’s take a look at some strategies that might. Find out how to exercise everyday no matter how busy you are and actually enjoy it!
Expand your definition of exercise
People have very restrictive views about what counts as exercise. It often involves a piece of equipment or heading to the gym. The truth is that exercise in it’s simplified form is just movement. That’s an interesting and freeing thought! You don’t actually have to run, cycle or lift for it to count. All you have to do is move more than you currently do. If you feel winded going up and down your stairs that doesn’t mean you can’t get activity in. You will find that the more you move the more you can endure moving and eventually the stairs won’t get to you.
For now… just add some extra movement to your day. Consider the old recommendations to take stairs instead of the elevator (or stop piling things on your stairs for a later trip and take them one at a time). Park a little further from the door. Add in some fun movement like playing with your kids or pets, window shopping with a friend or having a dance party in your living room. This all counts!
The number 1 reason people don’t exercise is because they “don’t have time”. Obviously this is a huge challenge because you can’t just create more time in the day. There are 2 questions that come to mind when I think about this particular challenge.
Where to find the time?
The first is, how much time do you think you need? According to Blue Zone studies (the research done on communities with exceptionally longer than normal life spans) 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week has a profound impact on your life and health span. That’s less than 25 minutes a day! Remember that this is simply movement. In fact, in the blue zones people don’t typically go to the gym. they get their exercise performing normal daily activities. So, this doesn’t have to be devoted treadmill time. Do you clean your house, it counts. Walk around the office… counts! Play frisbee with your significant other… yep, that counts too! Anything you do that gets you off of the couch and increases your heart rate counts. So walk your dog or do some gardening. Multi-task by getting your chores done or have fun, it counts!
You might be thinking you have to set a timer of some sort and if you just do a quick 15 minute tidy up it doesn’t count. Guess what? You’re wrong! That 15 minutes counts toward your daily total. You don’t have to do all of your exercise in one block of time. You can break it up into smaller segments. It can be very helpful to keep track of your activity times (and the activities themselves) in your food log or journal. Do some quick math after dinner and if you haven’t hit your goal go for a quick walk or do a few extra chores while cleaning up to make sure you hit your goal?
Is time an excuse?
Here’s some tough love! Stop saying “I don’t have time”. The truth is you choose to spend your time doing other things. If you really don’t have 20 minutes a day to move than you need a serious overhaul. Think about what you currently spend your time doing. If necessary write it down. I’m sure that every moment isn’t filled with imperative, mindful action. It is likely that you spend more than 20 minutes scrolling social media or watching tv. Is that your priority? I’m guessing that you would feel pretty silly saying “watching tv is a priority to me but movement, which can improve my health, mood and elongate my life, is not.” Try it… say it out loud. See… it sounds absurd. Stop letting yourself off the hook with the time excuse. When you don’t get your movement in remember it’s an issue of priorities. Don’t feel bad about it and get into self condemnation. You have control over your priorities. You can make an adjustment. Make sure your actions line up with your priorities.
Movement is Self Care
Change your mindset! Exercise / movement isn’t a way to punish yourself. This isn’t something that you do because you’re “fat”, “old” or “out of shape”. This is something you do because you love your body. You are taking care of it. You are giving it what it needs to continue to be healthy and to thrive. Think of your increased movement as a way of pampering yourself. Be attentive to the ways in which your body can move. Focus on that and create a spirit of gratitude regarding it. Write body positive affirmations on your mirror. Keep notes about how you feel when you are active and when you are just going about your daily life. You will likely find that things that used to tire you out no longer do. Sleep and mood are likely to improve. So is your productivity and even your sex drive.
Stop focusing on exercise as a way to fix the things you hate about your body. Start thinking of it as a way to take care of your body. Think of it as a way to connect with yourself. Develop a spirit of gratitude for everything your body can do and has done. Be proud of yourself for every bit you accomplish! This will make it a whole lot easier to get your daily exercise in!
Everyone Needs Exercise
Everyone needs exercise. The truth is that there is no such thing as an exercise loving gene. People who run 10 miles a day started running at some point and it’s highly likely that they didn’t like it at all. As you continue to move and exercise you might be surprised by the activities you discover that you enjoy. You might be surprised by your increased stamina, strength and endurance. If you keep moving everyday, someday, someone will look at you and think you have the exercise gene. They will think you love and have always loved exercise and that it comes so easy for you. I hope you won’t tell them to just run to the end of the block. I hope you’ll tell them to read this article.
Write your favorite type of movement in the comments below. Hopefully, we’ll inspire others to move more with our great ideas!
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