Ever feel guilty for not getting enough exercise? Changing the way you think about exercise might just be your first big step to doing more of it.
First, choose positive vs. negative reasons. Do it – not because you dislike the way you look or because you are worried about contracting some dreaded disease – but, rather, because you love the way it makes you feel, because it honors your body, and takes care of just you.
Lose the workout mindset. You don’t need a gym membership, personal trainer, or large, unsightly piece of equipment in your home. You don’t even need a dedicated block of time fit more exercise into your day. Just think about taking full advantage of micro time increments throughout your day to increase focus on moving, expending energy, building strength, or improving flexibility and balance.
Focus on many short bursts of exercise throughout your day. Just five minutes per hour adds up to 40 minutes of exercise in an eight-hour workday. The idea is to rev up your metabolism, then keep it going all day, especially around meal times.
Dress sporty when feasible, so you can always be ready to exercise when opportunities arise. Keep a kit in your car or office: sneakers, socks, clothing layers, water, and music player with a great, upbeat playlist. Got 10 minutes in a school or practice pickup line? Throw your car in park and take a few laps around the parking lot or field while you wait. Don’t worry about how you look or who can see you. You might be surprised by how many people are inspired and ask to join you.
Exercise enough to feel it in your muscles or elevate your heart rate, but not enough to break a serious sweat (which would require you to shower or just leave you feeling gross as you go through other activities such as work or errands).
Choose inefficiency. You may have figured out ways to be super efficient with your time. But, efficiency often equates to economy of movement. For example, when hauling groceries into the house, take more trips rather than fewer. Instead of parking near a store, make a beeline for the farthest spot away then walk briskly to the door. Work in an office? Choose restrooms on different floors, then take the stairs.
Use your own body weight and resistance. Don’t just take the stairs, run them! Or try taking stairs two at a time for a quick leg-muscle workout. You can do squats, lunges, ballet pliés, yoga poses, stretches or arm exercises virtually anywhere for any small increment of time.
Make use of everyday items. Putting groceries way? Use that gallon of milk or big detergent bottle for a few bicep curls or lateral raises on each arm.
Don’t track or try to improve your performance. Just focus on moving, strengthening, stretching, or balancing whenever you find yourself with a few minutes of free time. You may not end up with six-pack abs this way, but you will be helping your body to de-stress, sleep, digest and just work better all around.