Updated: Sep 23, 2022
I never really liked exercising. Maybe it comes from my school years, where PE was part of a curriculum, and I really disliked all those physical activities we had to participate in.
When you’re a kid and in your twenties, you have a lot of physical movement. You’re always on the go, playing joyfully with your friends. Maybe your favourite toy is a bike, skateboard, or ice skates. But the bottom line is that you don’t even think that you have to move your body constantly for health reasons, it’s part of who you are and what you do every day.
But as you get older, get serious with your career, love life and start building a family, movement disappears from your life. You spend more and more time sitting and less and less time moving.
It’s not that you don’t want to exercise, or you don’t see the health benefits from it. Well, what is it exactly? Lack of time? Lack of motivation? Stress? Tiredness? Yet another project to finish? Or the gym was closed again? Weather?
The research shows that the main reasons why people don’t follow any fitness routine are lack of motivation and time. But I beg the differ. Look at the gym participation after New Year? Everyone is motivated to exercise then. Or if you really, really, push yourself after all you can find some time to go for that jog.
I think the main reason why you don’t exercise is because of the way you think about your fitness routine. You imagine your fitness routine like climbing Mt. Everest every single day and you feel tired before you even started.
And that’s why in today’s blog post I want to invite you to start thinking about your fitness routine differently, not from a place of lacking something, but from a place of gaining something.
But before we start, are you part of my community? Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time and INVEST well in your wellness!
Why It’s Important to Move?
Have you ever heard yourself saying, that you have to exercise, or that you want to lose a few kilos, so you have to go to the gym?
You’re not alone, millions of people say those magic words (‘I have to exercise’) every single day. I can’t be 100% sure about you, but when I say that I have to do something, I usually don’t feel like doing it. Somehow my mood plummets, my motivation disappears, and I keep sitting on the couch.
How about you?
Because when I say that I have to do something, somehow it feels like an obligation to me, not like a choice I made consciously. Next time you catch yourself saying you have to exercise, try saying you get to exercise. By making a small twist with words, you can get to experience something, you get to use this as an opportunity, you just get to have some fun!
It sounds much better, doesn’t it?
You have this body, so you get to move it.
Biologically, your physical body was designed to be in motion. You need to move your body to keep the muscles healthy, your heart strong, to increase oxygen levels in your body and distribute fresh oxygen to all your body parts, and to increase hormone distribution. Movement also sharpens your brain, elevates your mood, and gives you the energy you need.
If the above still doesn’t sound convincing enough, do you know that movement acts as a preventative therapy and keeps your body from developing life-threatening illnesses?
You need to ask yourself a very personal question, putting all biology aside, as to why it is important for you to move your body? Get very personal on this question, because you know the facts, now you need to feel them. In your body.
The Difference Between a Fitness Routine and the Other Fitness Routine
When you think about exercising, you most likely imagine gym equipment, lifting weights, or training for a marathon. This all requires time, commitment, maybe fancy clothing (you do want to look good on that treadmill after all!) but above all your motivation. But if your life is a bit chaotic and you’re constantly finding yourself running from place to place, dare I say it: being stressed, you may not have any motivation left to pick up that fancy outfit and go to the gym.
But let me jump in here and tell you that a fitness routine is not all about the gym.
My love of movement, and mindful fitness routine, started the moment I stopped associating exercise with heavy equipment, a place I had to go to exercise, or a scheduled class.
Mindful body movement is any movement really. Anything you enjoy doing that puts your body into motion. It can be short in duration, or it can be long in duration. It may require fancy clothing, but it may as well be happy with your old, faded T-shirt. Because when it comes to fitness and movement, there are really no rules except that you get to move.
Once you streamline your thinking and start considering some of your daily activities as movement, your fitness routine will start taking some shape. Walking around your office for five minutes and adding three hamstring stretches can easily be a part of your daily dose of movement.
Because you see, to even have any routine, you need to start somewhere. Start with something small, something that is already part of your day, and build up on it. Not everything in life has to be serious.
Do you know that you can dance to your favourite song when you do the dishes? You move your body, giving its needed energy to function in the best way possible.
Because anything really can be a movement.
Dr. James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., and his team at the Mayo Clinic developed the NEAT program. NEAT, which stands for non-exercise activated thermogenesis, is any physical activity which in simple words, gets you moving (exercise below the usual measurement of moderate to vigorous energy expenditure), without the sweats. Some of the most common NEAT activities are laughing, singing, cleaning, folding laundry, or doing the dishes. Some of the NEAT activities are leisure in nature like standing up when you’re reading.
Don’t get confused with NEAT activities: they should not replace your active HI physical activity, which is still required for optimal health, but they can be a nice addition on those days when you’re too tired, too stressed, short of motivation, and short on time.
It’s Time to Move
Do you know that the most effective cure for depression and anxiety is movement?
Yes, that’s it.
And this strategy is not only used to treat mood disorders. A lot of patients are asked to get up from bed only a day or two after surgery. They’re asked to move in order for their bodies to heal. Because to have any energy you need to move your body. At any time, any spare time you’ve got, with any intensity your current status allows you to.
Lack of time doesn’t need to be relevant when it comes to movement. Research shows that about 150minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity will reveal benefits. If you’re thinking right now that 150min is too much and you don’t have that much time, let’s break it down.
Let’s say that you may want to exercise only five days a week. It is only 30 minutes a day. If 30min in one go looks too challenging, you can split the 30 minutes even further into shorter 10 minutes exercise blocks 3 times a day. C’mon everyone has 10 minutes to get up and move around, for health reasons.
It may not seem like it matters if you say that you’re not exercising today. But lack of movement has pretty significant consequences.
Do you know that lack of movement makes you feel foggy, heavy, tired, bored, and well, yes depressed?
When you stop moving your body, your muscles don’t exercise, your heart doesn’t pump fresh oxygen, your bones are losing their density, your cardiovascular system is not supported, and waste products are not being removed from your body. If sedentary life goes for too long, you may experience muscle strain, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Because when you move your body, you keep your muscles supple, increasing their strength and flexibility. But once you stop any movement, it doesn’t mean nothing occurs in your body. It goes the other way: your muscles shorten, tighten and shrink until they hit atrophy. Atrophy means that your muscles are wasted away, and they no longer can pull you up, get you moving or help you to complete simple, daily tasks.
So, staying active will definitely help you to enjoy your longevity for a little bit longer.
How to build a meaningful fitness routine
The biggest mindshift you can make when it comes to body movement is to think about fitness in a different way.
You see some things will never change, if it’s hard to exercise now when your career has just taken off, or maybe you’ve just started a family, your life circumstances have changed rapidly (and whose hasn’t in the pandemic?), then how easy do you think it will be next year or the year after to start or get back to exercising?
Start saying that you get to exercise today because when you say have to, it feels like an obligation. And nobody likes to do anything out of obligation. You get to move your body. At least on the biological level. Movement supports the health of your muscles, bones, organs, and hormones to name a few of the benefits. Body movement also acts as a preventative therapy to keep you away from developing life-threatening illnesses. Body movement is used in helping to elevate your mood and your body to heal. It speeds up the recovery process.
The important fact, that a lot of us seem to forget, is that lack of movement doesn’t mean that you don’t move and that’s it. Once you stop doing any form of exercise, critical functions start happening in your body: your muscles go into atrophy, fresh oxygen is not being pumped into your heart, your bones are losing their density, your vital body systems such as the cardiovascular system is not supported, and waste products rather than being removed from your body, are becoming unhealthy toxins. But prolonged sedentary lifestyle will have even more drastic consequences such as muscles strain, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes just to mention a few.
Fitness routine doesn’t have to be complex. A simple 10min in duration exercise can do you wonders. Incorporating some joyful movements can make your fitness routine more appealing. Because all your body cares about is movement. So, you got to move. And with the development of programs such as the NEAT program you can stack up a number of daily tasks, add some motion to them, and keep on moving.
Your body is really a marvel, and it’s very intelligent: it will tell you when you need to move. Because your body doesn’t care about motivation, time, or fancy routine. Your job is to look for the signs. And trust me, your body is sending you signals all the time.
Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time and INVEST well in your wellness!
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