Instead of dwelling on why you’re not exercising, I’m sharing five hacks that will give you reasons to move your body today and every day.
Hack #1: Believe you CAN exercise every day.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s probably THE most important thing you can do to make exercise a daily habit. If you begin by thinking, “There’s no way I can exercise EVERY day,” you’re right. Each and every day, you’ll find some way to avoid exercise. Look how well you’ve done so far! That might sound snarky, but it illustrates my point.
So, starting today, say, “I exercise every day.”
Say it out loud while looking yourself in the eye in the mirror. Say it out loud again as soon as you open your eyes in the morning and when you’re going to sleep at night.
Notice that it says, “I exercise every day.” Not, “I will exercise every day.” Or “I want to exercise every day.” It’s, “I exercise every day.”
Why it works: Our brain loves repetition and doesn’t like lies. The more often we hear something, the more likely we are to believe it. Putting the sentence into the present tense, makes a statement about what you do, not what you will do or want to do.
Our brain doesn’t like lies. If you believe you exercise every day, your brain will work behind the scenes to make sure you exercise every day because it’s matching the belief (I exercise every day) to the behavior (you start exercising every day).
One more thing to note here, exercise isn’t defined. That’s on purpose. Exercise can mean anything from walking to weight-lifting. The important action is to move your body. That doesn’t have to mean going to the gym for an hour every day. It could mean walking up and down the stairs in your home for 10 minutes. The important part is you exercising every day, not how long or what you do.
Say it with me: “I exercise every day!”
Hack #2: Stand up and sit down for one minute every hour you are awake. While you’re drinking your coffee, while you’re working, while you’re relaxing watching TV. Start now, while you’re reading this. Stand up and sit down in your chair for 60 seconds, non-stop. Then set an alarm for 60 minutes from now and repeat.
Why it works: Moving your entire body non-stop for 1 minute will raise your heart rate, increase your breathing rate, increase your alertness, increase blood flow, increase endorphins, and continue to burn calories after you sit for the final time. This requires no special equipment, and you have no excuses.
Hack #3: Add compound movements to your day. Using large muscle groups burns more calories, and using them in combination improves coordination. I call these Total Body Blasters in The Women’s Wellness Academy online membership. Do any one of these movements for 1 minute at a time. Combine them for multiple 1-minute sets, and you can create your own 30-minute workout. Here are some ideas:
- Lunge with a Lateral Raise
- Lunge with an Overhead Press
- Squat with a Forward Raise
- Wood Chopper
- Side Lunge with Lat Pull-Down
Why it works: Doing movements that combine upper and lower body muscles instead of “isolating” them maximizes calorie burn, lets you get more done in a time crunch, and reduces time spent at the gym. There goes your “I don’t have time” excuse.
Hack #4: Add Intervals. Want to get maximum benefit for your exercise buck? Raise your heart rate, bring it back down, raise it again.
Dr. Tabata did the original study on interval training. His protocol is short and brutal: ten minutes of warm-up followed by eight rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. That’s just 4 minutes of workout time. This 4-minute protocol’s benefits are the equivalent of jogging for 60 minutes!
But the work/rest intervals are brutal and, if done correctly, will be the longest (and most productive) 4 minutes of your life.
The goal (after warm-up) is to raise your heart rate as high as you can for 20 seconds, take a 10-second pause, and repeat.
Why it works: You don’t need any special equipment (body weight is best for this), you can do it anywhere, and you only need a few minutes to warm up, workout (4 minutes), and cool down, removing any and all excuses. How high your heart rate goes and how hard you have to work to get there is up to you. Walking half a flight of stairs may raise your heart rate high enough, or you may have to do more complex burpees. You can start anywhere and start seeing (and feeling) improvements quickly.
Hack #5: Make it feel good. Exercise may leave you sore when you’re getting started, but it shouldn’t leave you crippled. Being unable to get off the toilet because “leg day” is ludicrous for us mere mortals, and it’s a sure way to guarantee you stop exercising. Instead, choose a movement that makes you feel good and (gasp!) is fun. Yes, exercise can be fun. But does that mean your workout will never leave you sore? No. But if you’re struggling to find time to move your body every day, being so sore you can’t move won’t help you start your habit.
Why it works: Believe it or not, we’re programmed for pleasure, and life is meant to be fun. So the more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more likely you are to repeat it. That then compounds into body benefits, which increases the fun. Before you know it, you’ll be a daily exerciser, and you’ll be amazed there was a time when you weren’t.
Ginny Grabowski, MS, helps women struggling with weight loss, health, and fitness to unleash the healthy, strong, confident woman hiding inside themselves through her online membership, The Women’s Wellness Academy. Get her 1-page Mindset Download to practice Hack #1.