Exercise and movement are a huge part of preventive wellness. It’s a fact known to most. The point is, are we doing it consistently?
When it comes to exercising and physical activity, lack of knowledge or options isn’t the problem. The problem lies in human behaviour. It could be a lack of discipline, inconsistency, procrastination, following extreme paths, and so on.
If you have been struggling to get daily movement into your day, here’s inviting a few perspective shifts to make it a more regular affair.
Small wins with exercise
The problem is, that all of us are attached to the idea of doing all or none. We want to do a one-hour full-fledged workout, and if that doesn't happen, we do nothing at all. But, who said that workouts have to happen for an hour to be effective? Even 15 minutes of movement is effective, and if 15 minutes is a lot, even 10 minutes is good enough. Consistency reigns intensity unless you are aiming to build big buff muscles, which for the majority of us reading this isn’t the case.
So if an hour workout isn’t achievable, can we break it down into small wins of 10-15 minutes? Small wins? Yes. If you go on a 10-minute brisk walk or a 5-minute Surya Namaskar practice, it’s a win. Small wins compound overtime to make a big win. Or can you start aiming for 5000, and then 7000 and eventually 10,000 steps or more?
Other small wins with exercise:
Take calls while walking
Waiting to board the flight? Walk the lengths of the airport
Take five minutes of stroll post breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Get up in between long meetings
After every hour, invest in stretching
Invest in short bursts of movement (micro workouts)
Choose stairs instead of elevator
Squat as you bend down to pick up something
Calf raises as you stand to book/do dishes
Five-Six rounds of Surya Namaskar or more depending on your capacity
Fancy workouts and requirements don’t make a workout effective. It’s the consistency, even with simple movement that creates magic. Focus on
creating small wins with your workouts. This also keeps the dopamine high and motivation going. As opposed to setting big workout plans, but getting done not at all.
Exercise with intention
What is your intent behind exercising? Are you thinking of it as a chore or tick-in-the-box activity, or is there a deeper reason behind it? When the intention is right, it gets easier to achieve it. Think of exercise as a drug for:
Better circulation and lymphatic flow
Less fat percentage
Better mobility and balance
Stronger joints and bone matrix
Happier mood and pain relief (thank you, endorphins!)
Make it holistic
Cardio is great, but cardio alone is not. Make your workouts holistic, because your body’s needs are diverse. You need your heart to be strong, but so should your muscles, bones, back, joints, spine, respiration, and balance. Add strength or weight training, mobility and balance, flexibility, and endurance in your workouts.
With that said, whatever your favourite way to move or exercise is, do it with consistency. Consistency is magic and it’s created through repetition. The more you repeat it, the stronger the habit becomes. It’s like brushing your teeth. Done every day, so it becomes an inseparable part of your day. Whether you are travelling or not, take someone out for movement. That is what lifestyle change is all about. Not a fad, not a short-term goal. But a long-lasting habit.
(Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of You Care - All about YOU by Luke Coutinho)