WELLNESS--For starters, the all or nothing attitude towards exercise is not the mindset we want to hold.
When we expect too much from ourselves and we decide we are going to do it perfectly or not at all, we usually end up going with the latter. Research points to the fact that it’s ok to do small amounts of exercise at a time as opposed to one long workout a day. 30 minutes of exercise broken into two 15-minute sessions is just fine as long as one gets one's heart pumping during those short sessions. 15-minute sessions count towards the total exercise for the week the same way 10 minutes or 30 minutes does. Check out this article in the NY times for more information.
Keep the goal realistic. We want to eventually get to about 150 min a week of exercise. This translates into 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. As I already stated, if you start at 30 minutes total a week, this is much better than nothing and we have to start somewhere! Just build every week to more and more exercise. For those people that have been sedentary, simply throwing on a pair of sneakers and going for a brisk walk is the best way to get the body moving after a long time away from exercise.
We all have reasons why we don’t exercise, and eliminating those obstacles is a key. The best thing you can do is to write each one of those reasons down and pick them off one by one with solutions. If it’s kids, there are strollers made for power walking. If money is a challenge, you can simply ask a friend or trusted neighbor to hang out with your kids for 20 or 30 minutes when you go for a quick walk. You will feel like million bucks after you move your body and you can make it up to your neighbor by inviting them for a healthy dinner.
Do what you enjoy! Some people associate working out with doing things they don’t enjoy or things they are not good at. Don’t take a jousting class if you are not hand-eye coordinated and it’s just going to make you feel inferior. Think about what you do enjoy in regard to physical activity and do that. If you are one of these people that simply will not do it without a class, find a class to take that you enjoy and can keep up with. Most gyms have classes included in the cost and it doesn’t have to cost you 100 bucks a month to be involved in classes.
Hold yourself accountable with a workout buddy or a responsibility partner. Ideally you will find a workout partner with whom you can walk or go to the gym. If that’s impossible think of another friend or family member. This person doesn’t necessarily have to live nearby. They will just be your check in person at the end of each week to report that you have been exercising and how much time you logged. When you hit a wall and don’t feel like moving your body, this person can also double as your well of motivation. We need each other to reach difficult goals, so don’t be afraid to lean into your support group when starting a new workout regime.
For those of you that just don’t have the proclivity towards physical activity, a workout or responsibility partner may be the key to you getting serious about your health and activity level.
(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA www.AcupuncturebyChristian.comTV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR )