The Benefits of Exercise Are Clear.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades, there is ample evidence of its benefits on all 3 pillars – mind, body, and spirit.  Most of the benefits are received by the body, but there is also increasing research of positive effects on the mind and spirit as well.  If you need some refreshers, there’s plenty: Mayo Clinic, American Psychological Association, Healthy Living, Greatest among hundreds of articles.

So if there is so much anecdotal and scientific support for exercise, why do so many of us achieve so little of it?  What is stopping us from actually doing it?

Why Don’t We Do It Then

I believe there are a number of explainable reasons for this:

  • Typical lives today don’t incorporate any physical activity at all into their work environments
    • Think:  Do you sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day?
  • Automation has made it easier to simply not move to accomplish something
    • Think:  Do you have to get up from the couch to change the TV channel?
  • People from a young age have significant entertainment that does not involve physicality
    • Think:  30 years ago, children played outside.  Today, they play Xbox.
  • As children have grown up without internalizing the benefits of physical exercise, they place less importance on it.

to name a few…

But here’s what not explainable:  The amount of ‘free’ time in the United States for the average person has increased by 10-25% over the past 50 years (see here).  So why do so many of us not prioritize a widespread and ubiquitous understanding that exercise is essential to maintaining our health?

Part of the reason is that it’s work now.  It wasn’t so much work decades ago.  It was your work.  And it was just part of what was required to accomplish your overall work objectives, much the same as typing on a keyboard might be part of accomplishing many objectives of today’s workers.  The problem is, exercising your fingers only goes so far!

Find The Right Reasons

Work for the sake of working is hardly satisfying.  So unless you are receiving something very important, and very instant from it (money), then few of us will make it a priority to do it.  And there’s the rub.  When medical advances, automation, and fewer physical job requirements all make exercise more work than anything else, it becomes more and more difficult to do it.

And yet it is crucial to your well-being to move.

So what do you do?  From my perspective, you do one of two things:

  • You build the discipline to exercise on a regular basis
  • You build exercise into recreation and the activities you enjoy

The latter is much easier to implement.  Find physical activities that are rewarding to you in any way.  Many people start simply:  Walk.  Yes, it’s pretty simple.  Walk.  Here’s a great article on incorporating your life into one that incorporates exercise.

The former is quicker to achieve, in my opinion.  You have to hit it.  You have to bring it.  And you have to see results immediately and realize quickly that moving your body is awesome!  There are some very simple things you can do in just a few minutes every day that will quickly lead to the state of can’t-go-without exercise.  It may vary depending on what makes you tick, but some of these activities will quickly elevate your well-being and lead to long-lasting exercise discipline:

Simple, Yet Effective

  • Do 5, then 10, then 20 pushups at one time every day for 30 straight days
  • Do 10, then 20, then 30 body squats (simply squat straight down) for 30 straight days
  • Do arm circles (arms straight out and creating circles with them) for 30, then 45, then 60 seconds – for 30 straight days
  • Dance for an entire song every day, then 2 a day, then 3 a day – for 30 straight days
  • Stretch during your evening TV viewing for at least 30 minutes – any stretching and whatever you feel you need at that time

These exercises take 5 minutes to start!  The benefits will be recognized immediately.  You’ll feel stronger within 2 days.  Do it for 30 days straight and you’ll be looking for more!  And when that happens, you won’t need to be reading articles about how to start, you’ll be reading articles about how to continue to expand this new part of your life.

It’s that simple.  5 minutes a day to start every day for 30 days.  Once you begin setting aside time in your day to move and you do this month after month, you’ll start incorporating movement into your recreational activities.

I’ve been moving for over 25 years.  These days if I don’t move, I am not happy.  I get grumpy, irritable, and tire easily.  That’s my mind, body, and soul telling me to get a move on!

Keep at it.  You’ll get there.