How to learn to love exercise
- by Mark Stibich, PhD
- How to learn to love exercise
- Steps to help you get hooked on this healthy habit
The aging process is still a mystery to most of medical science, but there is one thing we do know and that is that exercise is critical to a long and healthy life.
Exercise not only increases longevity, it also helps us feel better immediately. However, over two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight. Therefore, exercise seems to be difficult for most of us, or at least not part of our daily routine.
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- Learn to love exercise
While some of the healthiest cultures have no formal exercise as we know it, they all live very active lifestyles from the time they are children until they reach their 80s and 90s.
Unfortunately, the average American lifestyle isn’t that active. In fact, it is quite sedentary. But we have countered some of the damage we do every day with regular exercise. While hitting the gym might not seem like a good time for you, there are people out there, and many of them, who actually love exercise. They love to run, lift weights and swim. Wouldn’t it be much easier to exercise if you were one of them?
Here are some steps that can help you learn to love to exercise
One of the hardest things about exercising can be programming it. In a culture where we live a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, everything else seems to take priority over exercise.
But it shouldn’t. Exercise is seen as a free time activity and who has more free time? Before you pack up in buying the right shoes and finding the right exercise routine, practice aside the time.
Constantly reserve 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, to get moving.
Don’t allow yourself to use that time for something else.
Follow your bliss
Here’s your first test: For 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, think about exercise. Sit somewhere and think about it.
- Don’t answer the phone.
- Do not browse the Internet.
- Do not write.
- Do nothing but think about the exercise.
Think about what simple physical activity you could do during this 30-minute period. Could you walk? March walking on the spot in front of the TV? Go to the gym? Doing yoga at home?
What looks right or more attractive? Do this mental exercise for a week or until you feel ready for the next step. You may be ready after the first day!
Replace with an actual exercise
Now that you’re used to setting aside time and thinking about exercise, start replacing thinking with physical activity. It may sound silly, but by scheduling just 30 minutes, you’ve overcome the biggest obstacle to regular exercise: time. Now you can have fun experimenting with your training style.
Don’t worry about the intensity or the results. Choose what feels right. Just keep establishing the habit of exercising three times a week. There are an infinite number of exercise possibilities, but perhaps you will feel more comfortable starting with one of the following:
- Walk outside
- Go to the gym
- Attend a class
Set a minimum
Now that you’ve set the time and tried a few different things, set a minimum number of times each week that you’ll be practicing. Commit to yourself that you would never go below that minimum.
- Even if you’re on the go or just incredibly busy, you can still honor your commitment with light stretching or brisk walks scattered throughout the week.
- If you stick to your commitment every week for the rest of your life, you will continually reap the health benefits. Commitment is the single most important action you can take.
Sometimes you will go over the minimum, sometimes you will have bad days when you walk on the treadmill, but you will have built a healthy habit that will support you throughout your life.