Exercise – You Have To Start Somewhere

Does the thought of exercising drain your mind and de-motivate you? Well, to be honest, I’m not surprised. Experts recommend working out thirty to forty five minutes a day. If you think about it, it is a bit of a tall order, especially for those who haven’t cultivated this habit yet. This is also the case for working professionals.

While this might be hard when you first start, the fact is that exercising is still possible – you just need to sneak in the equivalent in resourceful ways. The idea, at its very core, is to simply keep moving. When you move, you are burning calories. Small habits can accumulate over time, and can set the tone for a fit lifestyle.

Lest you think that short bursts of activity have a negligible effect on your fitness program, think again. One study found that women who split their exercise into ten minute increments were more likely to exercise consistently, and lost more weight after five months, compared to women who exercised for 20 to 40 minutes at a time.

In a landmark study conducted at the University of Virginia, investigators asked men and women to complete 15 10-minute exercise routines a week. After just 21 days, the volunteers’ aerobic fitness was equal to that of people 10 to 15 years younger. Their strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility were equal to those of people up to 20 years their junior.

In yet another study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore found that for improving health and fitness in inactive adults, many short bursts of activity are as effective as longer, structured workouts. It would be useful for people to get out of the all-or-nothing mind-set that unless they exercise for 30 minutes, they’re wasting their time.

Breaking exercise into small chunks on your overscheduled days can also keep your confidence up. Skipping exercise altogether is ‘de-motivational’ which means that you will feel depressed and guilty. If you slip-up it is your natural tendency to think that it is futile since you can’t keep up with it anyway. But the fact is that as long as you make some effort each day, that motivates you onward. Success breeds success, or so they say.

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Keep in mind, though, that short bursts of exercise are meant to supplement, not replace, your regular fitness routine. This is something you really need to embrace. Use them as a stepping stone and to set a precedent, but do make good workout plans for yourself. One way to do it is to grab the Lifelong Fitness Blueprint by itself, or as a set as part of the Granite Fitness Masterclass.

Okay, back to some ideas of “incidental exercise”, there are many ways to go about this. For example, when you go outside to pick up your morning newspaper, take a brisk five minute walk up the street. If you have a bit of time, try a few minutes of jumping jacks. If you are taking the kids to the park, chase them around.

The point here is to make sure you move at every opportunity. After a while, you will get creative at this. One area which I did a few years ago is with stairs. I always use the stairs when I am going to the gym in the mornings – all seven storeys of it. If you live in a city, you can use the stairs instead of the escalator during peak hour when going to and from work.

Fitness is a mindset, not a static thing. I would strongly suggest a two-prong approach – which is that you have scheduled exercise as well as making those small changes. And guess what – if you know me, I do practice what I preach! Once again, learn more about it by getting a copy of the Lifelong Fitness Blueprint by itself, or as a set as part of the Granite Fitness Masterclass.

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Also published on Medium.

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