Are we too tied to the concept of “exercise”?
It comes with a host of expectations. Exercise _ times per week. Exercise _ minutes per workout. Exercise at _ intensity. Exercise in _ format.
Ironically these criteria can create pressure, which in turn create excuses. This is a crazy week, so I’ll pick it up next week. I only had 20 minutes, so it wasn’t worth working out. I didn’t feel up to it, so I bailed. My trainer wasn’t available, so I’ll get after it next time.
Studies and data back up a useful point to internalize: the most important variable is that you do something – anything! – consistently. Almost anything (safe) performed above your current baseline produces positive physical results.
The exception to this is the athlete/competitor tearing after aggressive goals. Yes, this requires detailed, personal, and progressive programming. But let’s be honest – how many of us fit that description? Not many. Most of us want healthy bodies that we can be proud of without requiring huge sacrifices on the personal and professional fronts.
Your takeaway is to forget “exercise”. Take the pressure off, and strip away the expectations. Try “movement” on for size. It’s a comfier fit.
Now re-assess those excuses. Any movement you fit in during the crazy week helps. 20 minutes is hugely beneficial. When you don’t feel up to it, take a walk. Any trainer worth his or her salt will provide an at-home/outdoor routine to keep you on track, so just ask!
Take an honest look at your lifestyle – your profession, your family, your recreation. Instead of forcing in exercise, find opportunities to seamlessly integrate movement.
Have a walking conference call. Go to yoga with your neighbors. Play a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Hike with the dog. Engage your best friend in a push-up challenge. Engage your family in a Fitbit challenge. Choose to take the stairs. Use the free workout videos on your cable package (did you know I have some of those?) Hold a plank a day. Do a pull-up every time you pass the bar in your house. Do 10 squats from your computer chair every half-hour you’re seated. Learn a Turkish Getup. Lift, run, bike, swim, row.
Start simple. Move.