When a client reports that they have trouble getting enough exercise, I often look for the ‘should’. They may think they ‘should’ be doing a certain kind of exercise, in a certain place, a certain number of times/week, etc. Their attitude about exercise is akin to work, and they’re not even really interested in their chosen method. Instead, I encourage them to broaden their perspective on exercise, taking it out of the gym and into the world of everyday life and play, so they can find the right kind of exercise that will continue to be fun and engaging. Simply put, find activities you enjoy doing and you’ll be more likely to engage with them on a daily basis.
Here are some outside the box ideas to keep you moving :
• Join a recreational sports team, like ultimate frisbee or kickball. Fun!
• Start walking or biking to do some of your neighborhood errands.
• Sign up for a benefit run or bike event. Nothing motivates like training for a worthy cause!
• My favorite– impromptu kitchen dance parties. Home cooking and exercise unite!
• Consider working with a personal trainer or health coach. Seeing someone provides accountability and support in reaching your desired fitness level.
Think about what kind of environment would be most supportive for you. A gym, group class, sports team or boot camp where everyone is there working out together? An outdoor activity, where you can get your nature fix? Or the privacy of your home with a workout video or one on one support from a coach? What works for you?
A friend recently had the goal of doing cross-fit 3x/week. When I asked her how this was going she said she hadn’t been able to make it happen because the class schedule didn’t work with her work schedule. She chose instead to make movement happen on her own schedule by getting out on her bike. She said she felt like a kid again, and is looking into joining a velo club!
There are many important reasons to exercise, and even 30 minutes on most days results in reaping the benefits. Here are 10 benefits of regular exercise :
1. Keep you young. Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
2. Reduce infections. Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise get sick less often.
3. Prevent heart attacks. Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
4. Ease asthma. New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
5. Control blood sugar. Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
6. Protect against cancer. Exercise may reduce the risk of colon-cancer by speeding waste through the gut and lowering the insulin level. It may also protect against breast and prostate cancer by regulating hormone levels.
7. Combat stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve mild-moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
8. Relieve hot flashes. Increasing fitness by walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
9. Protect men’s health. Pelvic exercises help prevent erectile dysfunction and possibly benign prostate enlargement, a common cause of urinary problems.
10. Prolong life. Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women.
Including exercise into your daily life is a matter of becoming creative, expanding your definition of exercise, and becoming more present. According to Daniel Iversen, of Portland Boot Camp, being future focused on a large goal, rather than smaller immediate goals, is one of the main obstacles to maintaining consistency.
“Here’s the thing: people rarely need more motivation. They generally have plenty to get where they want to go. It’s just that they keep running into roadblocks which puts the brakes on their motivation. See, motivation is like the gas in a car. You press the accelerator and the car moves forward. What people actually need is to take their foot of the brake. The brake is anything holding them back from achieving their goals. So here are people with lots of motivation, but they are trying to move forward with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake — going nowhere fast. Usually the brake is a big goal that seems far off and unattainable. The long range goal seems like a fantasy. If they stop focusing on the long range end goal of say, 100lb weight loss, and just focus on the short term goal of making it through TODAY… just through today’s workout and today’s meal plan… then they take their foot of the brake and move forward. Their motivation grows and carries them forward with each daily success… and they drive straight to their goals.”
So, Carpe Diem! Go have fun enjoying these marvelous bodies that were made to run, stretch, play, dance, climb, hike, and explore! Try something new if you’re stuck. Just show up for today in whatever way inspires you!