Exercise. We know we should be doing it. Books are written on it; magazine articles describe the best way to do it; TV shows discuss the merits of it; our doctors even recommend it. In fact, we know it would be good for us if only we could figure out how to fit it into our already crazy, busy lives.
Ask anyone who routinely makes time for some form of exercise, and they will tell you it simply makes them feel better. So, if we generally know that it’s good for us and will improve our lives, why aren’t more of us doing it? As a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor, I talk to many people who say that the hardest part to beginning an exercise program is finding the time in the day to do it and then making the commitment to do it regularly.
Here are some simple tips to making exercise an integral part of your life:
1. Find an activity that you enjoy. If you hate running, what makes you think you will be doing it three months from now (let alone three days from now!)? Whether it’s walking, swimming, bicycling, gardening, dancing, or aerobics–the key to maintaining a successful exercise program is to find an activity that you actually look forward to doing so you will stick with it.
2. Find an accountability partner or group. Knowing that your friends are waiting for you not only makes you more likely to show up, but it also makes it more fun. I have monthly online challenge groups and these challengers are getting amazing results because they are accountable to each other in the group! Left on our own, we may not show up or “push play” but when others are counting on us, we seem to be able to make it happen!
3. Something is always better than nothing. Don’t fall into “all or nothing” thinking. Many people assume that if they don’t have a full 30-60 minutes to devote to exercise each day, then there’s no reason to even make an attempt. However, this is not true. Research shows that small bouts of exercise accumulated throughout the day may provide many of the same benefits as one continuous bout of exercise, including improvements in aerobic fitness and even weight loss. Therefore, don’t continue to use lack of time as an excuse. Use your imagination to fit in 10-minute exercise bouts throughout your day. For example, try taking short walks first thing in the morning, during your lunch hour, or after dinner. Dance or ride bikes with your significant other, children, or accountability partner(s). Do push ups or sit ups during commercial breaks. These small changes can reap you big rewards.
Because our lives are so busy and the demands of work and family are so great, my clients say they feel almost guilty spending time doing something for themselves. But, if you are willing to commit to spending just a small portion of each day on exercise, you will be better able to care for everyone else in your life. Wouldn’t that be the greatest exercise benefit of all?