I get asked often (by friends, clients, even strangers I meet at parties) "What's the secret to exercising daily?".
It is a 'hot' question that I've had over 17 years to find the answer to. That's roughly how long I've been practicing the 'art' of regular physical activity.
But I don't tell you this to boast. I say it so you feel the long journey it's taken me to bring you the 5 iron-clad steps below. And my confidence that these 5 steps will help you implement exercise into your daily routine (if you acted on them).
A few points to keep in mind when you read the following list though:
— This is a concise list – for people who want to know how and are not afraid of doing the legwork.
— There is a lot more to know about fitness of course – I'm trying to simplify the points for easy access.
— If you have been exercising for a long time, it's likely the points below will still apply, but you'd need to dig a lot deeper to find your answers – you simply have more experience…
— I recommend that you try to move every day of your life – especially if you have a computer-based job. Now it doesn't mean intense 1-hour workouts each day. It means have 3-5 proper workouts, and the rest you can fill in with walks after dinner. Taking the kids to the park and playing with them. Even flying a kite counts.
Finally, for those of you who will have an argument that moving every day is a bit much to ask, consider this:
Do you only eat 2-3 times a week? Would you only brush your teeth that many times a week? What about breathing as often?
And before you suggest that exercising is neither of the above, please understand that movement is VITAL for the human body. It affects every bit of it.
I can repeat all those "benefits of exercising" pointers given by every popular magazine, but I know you know those already – so I won't waste your time.
So let's get going…
1. Make IT interesting and fun.
Yes – make sure that whatever you commit yourself to doing 4-5 times a week is actually something you enjoy.
Often I meet people who'll say things like – "But I hate doing weights." or "I can't stand running on a treadmill." (uh-yeah – if you stand on a treadmill whilst it's on…).
You don't have to do anything you dislike. The point is that there are just so many ways of keeping fit and healthy daily – that there has to be something or a few things that you'd be OK with doing.
Here are some viable options for you to explore (bearing in mind none of these will make you an athlete, but will keep you in good shape providing your diet isn't appalling).
– Exercise and dance DVDs.
– Home exercise equipment like the TRX by Fitness Anywhere.
– Yoga – classes or at home.
– Stop-start sports like tennis, rugby, football, squash, badminton etc.
– HIIT workouts – these are my favorites – full body workout in less than 30 minutes and can be done in any 3 by 2 m location.
– Jogging/Sprinting/Running – preferably in an HIT formation.
– Combat/military style training.
– oh and my least favorite… the GYM.
… there just has to be something you like in that list.
If you're like me, and you get bored easily – then combine your favorites in a 5-a-week workout schedule and go for it.
2. Make time for IT.
Look at your schedule – see when and how long you can spare if you absolutely committed to doing this 5 times a week.
Look for uninterrupted slots of 30 to 50 minutes. The truth is that you can get away with doing 12 to 21 minutes for the workout, but you have to factor in some time for getting ready and showering afterwards and so on.
So your minimum really is 30 minutes – including everything.
Write down what time you can do for each of the 5 days you commit to. Then write down what activity you'll do.
Put them in your diary with reminders – that way at least you'll feel guilty when you look at your schedule and decide to cancel.
3. Make IT a priority.
This one is critical. In fact this one alone is good enough for some people. Most of us know we should exercise, and we're even willing to 'suffer' a little.
But until we decide that we just WILL do it and it's very important to do it, nothing seems to get going.
Just make it important enough in your mind to not skip your sessions.
4. Find a reason to do IT.
And this step reinforces the one above. Ask yourself – why is it important to you to exercise?
BTW, this is a very powerful way to get leverage on yourself to do just about anything.
The thing is – everything in your life that's been difficult to achieve – has been achieved because of your reason WHY. If you have a strong enough reason to do something – you will.
So if you don't have one by now – make one. Just make sure it's YOUR real WHY.
5. Just stop making excuses – Just Do IT!
This one's actually a bit of a "truth with empathy" addition from me :o)
You're an intelligent human being. You know why you should workout. You know it's vital for your health and mind. So just get off your butt and start moving. Stop making excuses. Stop postponing it. Just start doing!