Generally, most people feel that they should exercise to get fit, be healthier or lose weight. These are three compelling reasons to get moving – although for most of us, how continually motivating are they really? There are many reasons why people give up on their exercise plans. For some it’s a lack of time or cost of getting started. Others make their exercise regimes so difficult it’s just not fun. Alternatively, they make it too intense so they end up with an injury. Getting into an exercise routine can take time and being able to see the health impacts of your endeavour, could require you to be a bit more patient than you’d like to be.
If staying motivated to add exercise into your day is a challenge how about, instead of feeling like you’re continuously falling short of this “worthy” goal, change your exercise frame of reference?
How much Exercise Do I Really Need?
Why do you think you should exercise? There’s ‘body healthy’ and then there’s ‘marathon fit’, which are you aiming for? Unless you’re an athlete or training for a specific event or reason, 30 minutes of moderate activity done 5 times per week (150 minutes), is a good starting point. Experts say that if you up the intensity of the exercise session you are doing, then 15-20 minutes of vigorous exercise, 5 days a week (75 – 100 minutes) should suffice.
Reframe What & How You Define Exercise
Joshua de Hahn, a registered Biokineticist, explains that the aesthetic vs capability perspective of exercise is often overlooked. “If we view fitness as what we are capable of rather than what we look like, then we can then see that exercise is the tool we use to develop a body and brain that are capable of accomplishing tasks. For example, if your car ran out of gas and you needed to walk 10kms to the nearest petrol station and then back to your car, would you be able to complete that task?”
Starting to exercise can be a challenge and being consistent with how you exercise, another. Joshua advises that it’s best to choose something you enjoy. Then, once you get into a good habit of doing it, add variety. Additionally, if you choose to go to the gym, but aren’t the biggest fan, then do it with a purpose in mind. For example, to strengthen your legs so that you can hike the trails you’ve always wanted to do.
What is Exercise?
If we see exercise as something that requires us to put on specific clothes, go to an exact place or do precise activities, we limit what we see as activity. Therefore we limit what could help us reach our daily let’s-get-moving-more-goal, which is essentially what exercise is. Don’t hold back if it’s a little unconventional! Find what you enjoy enough to get you out of your chair and moving…
Exercise Outside the Box
- Dance a Wiggle: Dancing is a great way to get your blood pumping and a fantastic way to lift your mood. Pick an upbeat song and dance around to it. You don’t need choreographed moves, although if you have a routine, fab! The aim is to keep wiggling and bouncing for the whole song.
- Clean House: If you give your space a proper clean then you will be stretching, bending, pushing, lifting and perhaps even jumping while you do it. To intensify your workout, tighten your abs as you clean or do lunges while you vacuum.
- Grab a Coffee: There’s no reason not to really enjoy a walk around your neighbourhood. Add coffee, a friend and instead chatting from the comfort of a chair, walk and talk. If you can, then beach walks are ideal.
- Go to an Amusement Park: With plenty of walking and lots of stairs to climb, amusement parks are a gem of an activity for friends and family to enjoy time outside.
- Bounce: Trampoline parks and home trampolines are fantastic fun and provide a great all-round workout.
Because the goal is to get moving and do moderate activity to keep yourself healthy, here are three things that can help start to make doing exercise something that is part of your day instead of a mountain you still need to climb at the end.
3 Ways to Help Make Doing Exercise Easier
- Break it up: When you’re starting out, aim to do 30 minutes of cumulative activity a day.
- Track Your Steps: Set yourself a target number of steps to do in a day. Remember getting up from your desk and moving around adds to your step count. Thereby you achieve two things – not staying seated for too long at a time and ticking off a lets-get-moving-more-goal.
- Activity Challenge: Add a challenge into the mix with a small number of interchangeable daily exercises like squats, push-ups, sit-ups or skipping. These can be done at anytime throughout the day, anywhere and can start with as little as 5 per day.
Traditional reasons to exercise, including feeling like it’s the right thing to do or because you made a New Year’s Resolution, may continually motivate some people but not everyone. So how about replacing your usual run-of-the-mill reasons for exercising with these more inspiring ones?
10 Unexpected Reasons to Exercise
- Boost Your Self Confidence: Exercise can help elevate our perception of our own attractiveness positively impacting our self-esteem and self-image.
- Combat Cognitive Decline: Getting active increases your brain chemicals which support and help prevent degeneration of the part of your brain responsible for memories and learning (the hippocampus).
- Increase Your Smarts: Studies show that working out can increase a brain derived protein that may assist with decision making, learning and higher thinking.
- Improve Your Creativity: Spontaneous thinking and creativity can be boosted by elevating your heart rate.
- Decrease Your Allergies: Provided you’re up for it, regular exercising can help contain allergies by enabling the allergens to move at a quicker rate through and out of your body.
- Resist Temptation: Getting active causes endorphins to be released. If you’re trying to cut down on something, getting your endorphin kick from somewhere else can help decrease your cravings.
- Enhance Fertility: Those who moderately exercised were shown to have a higher concentration of sperm and their sperm was of an above average quality.
- Reduce PMS: The same hormones that cause moodiness, depression, anger and crying can be countered by exercising consistently throughout the month.
- Pain Management: Research shows that moderate activity can result in short and long-term improvements in chronic pain.
- Be Younger: While keeping active helps us to look younger, recent studies also show that on a cellular level those that exercise are younger than those that avoid it.
Exercise should be fun. Especially, if you want to do it regularly and for longer than a few weeks. There’s no reason why it can’t be or that the reasons to exercise need to be the same as those that your gym or PE teacher taught you. Changing your view on what constitutes exercise as well as how to do it, could be just what you need to keep you motivated and enjoying being more active in the long run.
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1. How much exercise do I need?
To help keep your body healthy, experts recommend a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This can be broken into sessions of eg: 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
2. How can I make exercising easier?
Start by breaking the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise into smaller sessions, doing smaller bursts of activity sessions throughout your day. Pick an activity you enjoy then once you into a routine of exercising, add other activities and increase the length of individual activity sessions. Activities such as housework and dancing can contribute towards your time exercising.
3. Why should I exercise?
Exercise helps maintain overall health and wellbeing. It can also boost self-confidence, combat cognitive decline, assist with pain management and help decrease addiction cravings.