I wrote this post back in 2014 for a different website, but the principles still hold true for anyone thinking about starting or having trouble making exercise a regular habit.
The idea of exercising can be overwhelming and difficult to integrate into your daily routine—a major reason why so many people choose to bypass physical activity altogether. Below are five tips for re-thinking your collective approach to exercise to help cultivate a positive mindset around something that can be daunting and stressful:
1. Exercise can be movement, not just minutes.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore that is left uncompleted until those 45 gruelling minutes on the elliptical are finally finished. Exercise can be simply moving your body. This can be a ten-minute walk during a break at work, a few light yoga poses and dynamic stretches as you roll out of bed in the morning, or a quick set of push-ups to get your blood flowing and provide a nice boost of energy.
2. Exercise does not have to require blood, sweat, and tears.
Cross-fit. P90X. Insanity. Mike Chang. Six Pack Abs. We see it all the time: new workout routines guaranteed to blast fat and make us ripped—fast. Programs like these can certainly work depending on your health goals, but all too often result in injury if too quickly undertaken. In terms of exercising for health rather than purely weight loss, they are not at all necessary. Seek to discover ways to be active that you enjoy and will keep practicing! Consistency is far superior to short periods of intense dedication followed by another 3-month exercise hiatus.
3. Exercise can be short and sweet.
There are plenty of opportunities in the day to move. This can be as simple as a few standing squats or lunges, push-ups, short sprints up and down the block, wall sits, or even running up and down the stairs a few times! By the end of the day, implementing a few of these practices versus remaining seated will do wonders for your cognition, heart health, and longevity!
4. Exercise can help you learn about your body.
Numerous studies suggest exercise helps normalise circadian rhythm and hunger signals while boosting overall willpower. This leads to better choices made in other areas of life surrounding food, sleep, and body image. Exercise can help promote a positive mind-body relationship.
5. Exercise is (and should be) Rewarding.
Exercise is not reserved for the athletes. We all have a body, we can all participate. It is not punishment, nor a gruelling task waiting to be conquered each day. We are all meant to move and the more frequently we do so the better off we are in terms of our health, mental clarity, and overall vitality. Learning to find ways to move that you enjoy and want to practice on a regular basis is crucial in staying healthy. We all can reap the wonderful benefits exercise has to offer. Remind yourself of these tips to keep the momentum going!