They stalk us everywhere – these directives to get x amount of hours of exercise per week. Magazine headlines, news stories, self-help articles, your health care professional.
But what if the E word just makes you want to puke?
Here’s an idea: How about throwing out that word entirely? It’s just a word after all. What if you substituted “movement” for “exercise?”
Have you gotten up and stretched today? When did you last step outside for a walk?
If you have to reach back in your memory to answer those questions, you’re likely depleting your own energy levels.
If you’re cringing with guilt right now and about to click away because you know you hate the gym, you’re not a runner, and basically you fail at all attempts to initiate an exercise regime – WAIT.
There IS a solution.
First, let’s look at how we got here.
As far as everyday life is concerned, we’ve come a long way from our caveman roots. The guys no longer stalk game for hours nor do we ladies need to scramble through the forest for half the day searching out grasses, nuts and berries for sustenance.
Instead most of us spend our days with our butts planted in a chair, staring at a computer screen. That’s how we (indirectly) create our sustenance in today’s times.
Even just a couple of decades ago, this wasn’t the case. Sure, sedentary jobs existed and the U.S. worship of the automobile was in full swing, but still, certain daily needs required us to be up and out of our chair.
Not so much now. We can do basically everything from our chair – even shop for groceries!
The problem is our bodies haven’t caught up with this transition.
You could say that these bodily vessels have not evolved as quickly as our brains. It’s kind of sad that we now have to ‘make time’ for movement in our day. It’s yet another chore to do, something to fit in.
Forget about any weight loss goals you have for the moment – this is about your health, longevity and ability to access your own smile.
Stop thinking about movement as something you ‘should’ do for weight loss or weight maintenance. Sure, it can help with these things. But it becomes another ‘should’ that your Inner Critic cracks the whip around.
How about a change in perspective?
Focus on your desire to feel good right now. To have some energy for the task at hand, to hear uplifting thoughts swirling around in your brain rather than complaints, to feel pain-free.
That’s way more motivating.
Sure you can concentrate on a future when you have stamina to chase grandkids around, or the ability to walk for miles while visiting another country – those thoughts are motivating too. But they can feel too distant to get you out of that chair.
Think about how you want to feel RIGHT NOW!
But, you may be thinking. I still hate to exercise!
Have you ever considered the middle path?
I mean sure, it’s awesome – ideal even – if you can incorporate an hour or so of regular exercise into most of your days, but if that just doesn’t seem possible right now there’s no need to throw in the towel entirely.
Here’s the thing: just 5 or 10 minutes of getting that body up and going is way, way better than none at all.
In fact, you’re far more likely to stick with something that doesn’t gobble up yourd time, or leave you sore and exhausted.
Think about it. How many times have you resolved to start a workout program. Diligently walked, ran (or swam, done your yoga, whatever) for 4 or 5 days in row…only to collapse, get bored, or fall so behind with work that it all slipped away?
This time, let’s try starting small. Really, really small.
You don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to (although if you do you’ll get the added benefits of a sweet blast of head-clearing fresh air, courtesy Mother Nature.)
The Baby Step Movement Rx
Here’s the prescription: Add 5-10 minutes of movement into your day. (C’mon, everyone has 5 or 10 extra minutes! Think about how much time you spend on Facebook!)
A timer or calendar reminder alert system is your friend here. Start with just one of these ideas:
1) Take a stretch break.
My friend and client was lamenting that the day seems to slip by and she doesn’t even make time to stretch. She feels creaky, achey and grouchy as a result.
Now, she has a calendar reminder go off every day at 4 p.m. to remind her to take 5, get out of the chair and just do a few neck rolls, hamstring stretches, whatever feels like it needs to be stretched. A great late afternoon pick-me-up, and way better than more caffeine!
2) Walk around the block – fast.
Use the same alert system to get your heart pumping – even if it’s just for 2 or 3 minutes. If it’s cold out, you’ll need a couple minutes to get bundled up. Step outside into the fresh air and just propel yourself around the block (or whatever area nearby that adds up to 3-5 minutes). Then it’s back to your desk – refreshed and newly alert!
3) Get up and dance! (And do it like no one’s watching.)
I love this idea – and I have several friends who incorporate it into their day. It’s a definite attitude adjuster as well as a way to get some movement in.
If you work in an office, this one doesn’t work so well during the work day. But you can throw on some of your favorite upbeat tunes at home in the morning or evening and take just five minutes to shake it up around your living room.
I think this one works even better if you get a little crazy here – doesn’t matter if you ‘can’t’ dance, this is just for you!
4) Squats or deep knee bends.
It’s amazing how invigorating the simple squat is – it uses so many muscles, and doing just a few of these a day can really build up your fitness level, raise your heart rate, and tone your thighs as an added benefit!
So, what’s a squat? A personal trainer would probably give you a much more detailed explanation, but what I’m talking about is simply placing your legs about shoulder distance apart (or a bit wider) and bending your knees as you lower your torso and butt (just a little is fine to start) while raising your arms or lifting them above your head.
At some point I’ll make a video to show you this – promise!
How low you squat doesn’t matter. Make it challenging, but it shouldn’t hurt. Watch your knees, they should never extend beyond your toes. Start with 10 squats and work your way up to 25. This takes less than a minute and you can do it in the morning and evening and/or as a desk break.
5) The 10-Minute Invigorator.
I haven’t made that video yet, but my colleague Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living has! This awesome lady has created a video series that gets you breathing and moving for just 10 minutes a day. Super easy moves.
Farnoosh demonstrates for varying levels of fitness – and I guarantee you truly will feel invigorated and ready to tackle your morning.
These videos also work great as an after work pick-me-up, or a refresher at any time during the day.
I’m so impressed with Farnoosh’s talent in getting me motivated to move! I do have a regular exercise program. But sometimes I want to add in a little extra movement to get the day going or to break up my workday. I was getting tired of my own boring moves so I decided to try out Farnoosh’s first 10-Miinute Invigorator video – which she offers for free.
Wow! I loved it. Farnoosh combines principals from yoga and other exercise traditions to not only get your body moving but to generate an overall feeling of well being. If you need a little extra encouragement to get moving – do check out the 10 Minute Invigorator!
(And if you decide to buy the full series after clicking one of the links here, I’ll receive a small payment as an ‘affiliate.’ Maybe enough to keep me in organic coffee so I can continue to pump out these blog posts!)
So, what do you think? Are you ready to add 5-10 minutes of movement into your day? The heck with ‘exercise’! Just get moving!
Pick one or more of the tips above. Try out this baby step plan for a month (you know what they say about changing habits – takes at least 28 days, I think longer really). Then, you could begin adding in a little more time if you want or need to. Maybe this is enough for you. Check in with how you FEEL. How’s your energy?
If and when you’re ready to step up the game, I have a few more resources up my sleeve. I’ll save them for another time though. For now, think baby steps!
I’d love to hear from you if you like any of these ideas – or if you’ve got another baby step trick to get the body moving! Let’s use the comment section and help each other to get moving!