When I have a patient tell me that they HATE to exercise, my first question back is; tell me what the term “exercise” means to you? Often the response is that they hate to go to the gym, they don’t have time during their day to schedule exercise, or that they don’t like feeling tired or achy after working out. Any of these can be valid reasons, however exercise can be incorporated into our daily lives in many ways without feeling like it’s a chore. With the start of a new year, resolutions to improve our health and fitness abound. Finding an exercise routine that you can stick to will go a long way in helping you meet your goals.
The first rule of thumb when it comes to incorporating more activity in your life is to simply do something that you already like to do. Change your frame of mind on what you consider exercise. It doesn’t always mean working out in a gym or attending a formal exercise class. If you loathe going to the gym to work out, take your workouts elsewhere. For example, if you love being outdoors, then head outside -go for a hike, take a walk or go for a bike ride. Many cities have planned and well-manicured trails that make it easy to get out and enjoy these areas. If you prefer to work out at home, turn on an exercise video, do lunges down the hallway, or get a set of strength bands and create your own routine.
Play like a kid. Jumping rope, hula hooping, or a playing basketball are all examples of exercise that provide not only a great cardiovascular workout but also help improve core strength and overall muscle tone. If you have kids, get them involved in an activity. Turn on some music and have a “dance off” in the living room or set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Take your kids to the park and utilize the playground equipment to do pull ups, climb up the ladders and ropes, or engage the kids in a game of tag. During the summer months, swimming or playing pool games are also a great way to incorporate exercise and stay cool at the same time.
Make it social. If you like the idea of working out with others, find a workout buddy or sign up for a group exercise class at a local gym or community center. There are many “stand alone’ exercise places such as yoga, Pilates or barre studios where you can often pay per class or monthly. Both options not only offer good social interaction and a way to meet new people, but they also help keep you accountable.
Incorporating movement into your everyday life is what is most important. If you have been a non-exerciser or are getting back into an exercise regime after being inactive, start slow and ease into a program that is sustainable long term. Our bodies were made for moving, but this doesn’t always mean high-intensity, fast paced workouts. Planning on doing an activity every day, even if just for a short period of time to start, will help you in achieving your health and fitness goals over time.