For many people exercise should really be considered a 4 letter word.
We all know the benefits of exercise:
- Improved mood – in fact they are now linking Seasonal Affective Disorder to low movement as oppose or in addition to low levels of daylight
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved Detoxification and Lymphatic Drainage
- Increased Energy
- Lower triglycerides and higher good cholesterol HDL
- Improved insulin signaling and inflammation
- Lowered belly fat
- The list goes on and on…
Still, with all of these known benefits many people find exercise a huge struggle. Time and time again, people express the same story. They just have no energy and cant seem to find the will power or time to exercise.
I started to reflect on my own exercise habits. There are many things that I am not good at, but a consistent exercise routine is not one of them. Rain or snow (but maybe not hail) I will manage to fit in my workouts. These days my workouts usually involve a run with 3 kids in a jogging stroller or using a baby (or two) in replacement of dumbbells while doing a workout video in the basement. Now I cant seem find the time to get my haircut, put the laundry away or do a hydrating facial mask…but I can always find time to exercise.
My commitment to exercise comes down to 2 reasons
- My belief around the importance of exercise
My Belief of Exercise
You cannot live a vibrant life and have the energy and happiness you deserve without movement. The word exercise triggers a negative response in a lot of people. It reminds them of pumping iron at the gym, or dragging their butts to a spin class in the middle of winter. So instead, lets call it movement. Where we start to actually enjoy exercise is when we can find a way to consider it our special or relaxing time and also appreciate the way you feel after it is finished. There are some days where I dread putting on those shoes to go for a run, but I know that I will feel SO much better when it is finished. That anticipated feeling is what gets my butt off of the couch!
One great way to start to really appreciate movement is to combine it with time spent in nature. Don’t take my word for it, a Japanese study found that a nature walk can reduce cortisol levels by 12percent and a 7 percent reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity (related to anxiety).
I believe that our ability to commit to something have less to do with willpower and more to do with the importance that we place on it. Movement is my sanity, my special time in the morning, and I know that some days even though I don’t want to do it I am going to feel so much better afterwards. Laundry on the other hand…well, it can wait!
Anything important that we need to accomplish in a day needs to be scheduled. Movement needs to be scheduled too. Once movement becomes a habit, you will make time to get it done at any point in the day because it is important to your health. In the beginning, it is important it is scheduled. When patients leave my office, I ask them to pick days and times that they will accomplish their movement. The results are much better than if they simply agree to “moving” a couple of times a week.
5 Tips to Getting Your Movement Program Started
- Realistic Goal – Come up with a realistic amount of times per week that you feel you can commit to. If you are not doing any movement than 30min 3x/week is a great start
- Schedule these times in
- NET TIME – if you are a busy individual, try to find NET (No Extra Time) in your day to schedule your workouts. This means that instead of taking time out of your busy schedule, just combine it with another activity. For those of you that have kids, go for a walk around the soccer field during their practice, or walk the indoor track when they are in swimming lessons. You could also try parking farther away at work, or better yet if you live close enough walking to work. Many people will walk during their lunch hour, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Find a Buddy. Before the twins, my girlfriends and I would have Sunday morning runs, and I looked forward to this time all week. It was great in the winter as one of us would always be excited for the run and would pull the others out on those blistery days. The trick is, if you have not yet mastered this part of your life, you need to find a buddy that has. If both of you struggle to place a high importance on movement, it is more likely that you will end up meeting at Starbucks instead of the gym.
- Create a Movement Experience. It doesn’t matter what kind of movement you do, it just has to be enjoyable. This could mean the gym for some, or a treadmill while watching a show. For me, it is always something outside. This is a perfect time of year to establish your outdoor exercise regime before the snow falls. Running, walking or biking are great in the summer. If you start now you can create the habit and transition this into snowshoeing, walking or cross country skiing in the winter.
Getting outside has been found to lift mood, spark creativity, relieve brain fog and improve sleep quality! If you ever doubted how vital movement is to a vibrant life try doing it outside. All of these added bonuses of outdoor movement are sure to make you a believer!