Moving is what are bodies were made to do. They are made to move just like they are made to breathe, eat, sleep and all of the other bodily functions.
When was the last time you really moved? And shifting your weight on the sofa to reach the remote doesn’t count. Did you enjoy it? When we were kids we didn’t have any trouble moving. At some point in our lives we stopped really moving. It might have been during our awkward teen years in gym class, or during the party years of our college/early twenties, or post baby weight or caretaker stress. Whatever the reason, we stopped doing a bodily function of moving. And now if for some reason we would have to move, we have stopped enjoying it. Enough of that, let's bring back enjoyable movement into our lives.
Here are some suggestions to get movement back into your life:
Step 1: Get your annual check ups. It is always a good idea to talk to your physician before engaging in any type of "exercise" program.
Step 2: Get moving. Even before you make a plan for yourself just think about moving. For now, you need to prime the pump to get motivated and moving. Don’t even call it exercise because for some of us that connotes work.
For the next week or so, try to increase your movement for just 10 minutes a day. It can be a simple as lifting your arms up and down over your head like you are doing the “wave” at a ball game. Or still seated, punch your arms out in front of you like you are Rocky Balboa. If you are comfortable with walking, take a turn around your neighborhood or go up and down the stairs of your apartment building. Whatever you decide, just do it for 10 minutes.
If you cannot get outside (weather or safety considerations) how about moving during the commercial breaks if you watch TV? For each commercial walk in place, do jumping jacks, pump your fists up and down or do sit ups. See how you feel in trying that for the next week or so.
Step 3: Get a plan. Now that you have been moving some it is time to think about how to continue. How did it feel to move? Have you given any thought to something you would like to try? Run a 5K, learn how to do yoga or play tennis? Bicycle to work or walk the trails in a park nearby? Walk the Appalachian trail? Whatever it is, write it down. Then think of ways how to break down that goal into little bite size pieces.
Do you need to find out more information before you can do that? For instance, do you need to find out where the nearest yoga studio is, the cost and the hours? Can you enroll in a parks and recreation class on learning how to ski or play tennis? In your plan, think of how you can incorporate moving into your life.
For example, I walk every day (although that is a given with two dogs). Some of my walks include going to the local library, grocery store or bank. All of these places are about a mile or so from my house. I am fortunate that I do have side walks that allow safe passage. On any given week, I may pre-schedule the days I plan to run (weather dependent) or play tennis. I also have begun getting up from my desk every 60 minutes or so to stretch, go up and down stairs and just generally move for a couple of minutes.
Remember that you are not beholden to stick to the plan. Try it out, if it doesn’t seem to be working, examine why not and readjust.
Step 4: Get a partner. Studies have found that whenever we try a new endeavor, we are more likely to stick to it if we have someone else along with us. This might be in the form of an accountability partner- they know our plan and have the right to say, “How's it going with your walking? Have you been out lately? Is there something going on that is preventing you?". A partner's purpose is to help and assist, not to scold.
Having an accountability partner join us with our physical activity is very helpful. If your accountability partner cannot join you with your physical endeavor, try and find another exercise partner. Exercise partners are very helpful. Many times neither one wants to let the other down. If you do not know of anyone who is interested in the type of exercise you are doing, try seeing if there is a special club/group that meets in your area. Many times that is a great way to meet like minded people and to partake in some group activities. Check out FaceBook groups, Craig's List or local neighborhood websites/paper.
If you belong to a gym, advertise for a gym partner or see who comes to the gym the same time you do. Contact the gym manager or personal trainers. They might be able to put you in touch with another. Neighbors, friends, spouse, child- all can be wonderful account buddies and/or exercise partners. Nothing gets me more motivated to run than if I have to run with my teenage son.
Through social media and apps, you can find groups to share your experiences, egg you on and help with the competitive edge ( if that is your thing).
Step 5: Get a grip over the gremlins.
Even with the best laid plans you will experience set backs. You might be sick or a loved one is sick and you need to care for him/her. You may be traveling (work or pleasure) and will be out of your routine. You might be entering a holiday season with disruption to your schedule and having house guests. You name it, there is always something that will impact and call on our time. In the coaching world we talk about the gremlins (the little voice in our heads that prevent us from accomplishing our goals). I feel that there are little gremlins all around us, preventing us from choosing that which we want to do.
Plan for the gremlin. Have some back-ups for the disruptions that we know will occur. Here are some common gremlins:
- Disruption caused by Acute Illness: If you have a cold, flu or some type of bug, relax and don’t worry about your big plan. You need to concentrate on healing and getting better. That said, sometimes when we feel just a little sniffly and beginning of a cold, getting out to exercise may be beneficial. Only you know how your body responds. Generally though, it is best to rest, drink plenty of fluids and if you need to take medication, do so.
- Disruption caused by Chronic Illness: If you have a chronic illness or you are taking care of someone with a chronic illness, it is best to speak to your doctor about the exercise program that you want to achieve. Depending upon the diagnosis, sometimes mild exercise helps the prognosis. If you are a caregiver, is there a way you can incorporate your “exercise” with the one for whom you are caring? Take a walk, pushing a wheel chair or both of you engaging in arm exercises? If you need to participate in something more active/strenuous, can you have someone watch the person? As a caregiver you are under a lot of stress. Exercise can help alleviate stress and give you a different perspective
- Disruption caused by Children: Can you engage your children with you? Age-appropriate exercise? Have the child join you on a short walk or walk to the library, store. Can you bicycle ride? Teach your child a sport- toss a baseball together, hit tennis balls, etc. If you are in the stage of taking your child (ren) to a myriad of sporting practices, can you exercise while the practice is occurring? Walk, run around the playing field or neighborhood? Jog/walk up and down the stadium steps?
- Disruption caused by Inclement Weather: If it is rainy or cold, can you go to an indoor mall and walk around the halls? If you live in an apartment building or during your lunch break at work- use the stairwells- going up and down for 15-30 minutes? If you live in a snow community- bundle up and try snow shoe or cross-county skiing?
- Disruption caused by Holidays and Guests: Depending on how long you will have guests, determine if you can not worry about it. Or, invite your guests to join you. On vacations/holidays, try some other type of exercise; walking around town, seeing if you can go a day being car free, renting a bicycle/canoe, try a new sport- engaging with a professional for lessons.
- Disruption caused by Rural Living: Living out in the country can be difficult to practice "modern exercises"- generally there are no sidewalks, gyms down the street, etc. Instead, take advantage of the beautiful country side- "hill walking" -walk your fields, woods. Can you practice cross country skiing, canoeing, rowing, riding horses, mountain bicycling, cross- cycling? Caring of your home can be good exercise- movements through cleaning, up/down stairs, tending gardens, barns, animals, etc.
- Disruption caused by a Sedentary Job: Truck driving- there are many helps for drivers for stretching throughout the day, walking around the truck at a lunch/dinner stop. Check out www.rollingstrong.com for some tips. Desk job- it is important to incorporate movement into your day. If anything, you will perform better because you will get oxygen to your brain. Try getting up and walking around your office every 60-90 minutes. Practice walking in place or jumping jacks for five minutes. Use your computer/phone to set timing reminders. When the weather is nice, walk for 10-15 minutes of your lunch break.