4 Steps to Enjoyable Exercise
When you think about the things that you enjoy doing, you might think of reading, watching movies, eating popcorn, playing guitar, or going out with friends. Chances are that exercise isn’t on the top of your list.
I don’t blame you.
With incessant messaging like “no pain, no gain”, “sweat now to earn your dessert”, and “work off the holiday dinner”, it can certainly feel like exercise is not meant to be enjoyed. Rather, it sounds as though exercise is something you must get through as punishment for what you ate or as advanced payment for something you want to eat later.
And this is really unfortunate. Why? Because moving your body actually feels really good. I don’t necessarily mean spending an hour on the treadmill or an hour of lifting heavy things and putting them back down (unless that is your jam, of course).
Exercise can take the form of gentle movement. In fact, reducing overall sedentary behaviours may be more beneficial to our health than doing 1 hour of intentional exercise but then sitting around for the other 23 hours.
So let's get you moving more with these 4 simply steps!
1. Scrap the "go-hard-or-go-home" mentality
Oftentimes, even if we have 20 spare minutes in a day that we could use to go for a quick stroll or do a stretch session, we feel like it’s “not worth it” and then choose to scroll through Instagram instead.
Now, don’t get me wrong; brain breaks (and body breaks!) are absolutely necessary, and social media can certainly provide a welcome escape from reality now and then.
My point is more that 20 minutes of gentle exercise is NOT a waste. Exercise doesn’t have to be hours and hours of commitment every week and it doesn’t have to involve buckets of sweat in order for it to “count”.
Let’s reframe exercise: think of it more as “movement”. That takes the pressure off a bit doesn’t it? Whether it’s 45 minutes of heavy lifting, 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardio, a 25-minute leisurely winter stroll, or a 15-minute stretch with the TV on in the background, your body benefits from it all.
Drop the go-hard-or-go-home mentality!
2. Know that you don’t need fancy equipment
You don’t need an expensive gym membership or stylish workout clothes, and you don’t need to drop thousands into a home gym. All you need is your body.
Take advantage of free resources, like YouTube, which literally has thousands upon thousands of home workouts you can do without any equipment. There are all sorts of videos appealing to every taste, whether it's dance, yoga, stretching, body weight resistance training, or plyometrics. There are also wonderful options for all levels of fitness.
If working out at home isn’t your jam or you don’t have the space, get outside! Granted, the weather in Canada can certainly make this one a challenge at times, but don’t underestimate the inner peace you'll get from taking a leisurely stroll through freshly fallen soft snow or the warm colours of an autumn afternoon.
3. Be flexible in your approach
If you had a planned workout that you aren’t able to get to, that is FINE. Be flexible with your schedule and give yourself some grace. To me, giving myself grace means knowing that not every day is going to go according to plan and being okay with that.
Don’t stress thinking that you failed, or that it’s all over, and start questioning everything. You don’t need to scrap the whole rest of the week and “start again on Monday”. Don’t give up and pack it in because of one missed workout.
Instead, be flexible. Just pick back up whenever you can and want to. If you can’t get in some movement today, reschedule and see if you have some time the next day. Or if you thought you had an hour to hit the gym and now you only have 20 minutes, can you do some body-weight resistance training at home or take a quick jog around the block?
Be creative and be open to exploring different forms of movement that fits into your schedule and lifestyle.
4. Explore what you enjoy
A lot of times, people try to find “the most effective workout” or the thing that will “burn the most calories” or whatever. And then if they realize they don’t actually enjoy whatever that thing is, they end up choosing to just not enjoy movement at all.
Throwing on some loud music and dancing obnoxiously around your apartment may not feel like real exercise, but it is real movement and your body appreciates it.
And so will your mind. Trust me.
Stay nourished my friends,