5 Steps to Making Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine
These days, it can feel like there’s barely enough time to even take a breath. Life is already jam-packed with family, work, email, errands, battling your insurance company, folding laundry, and streaming the latest mini-series.
How can you possibly fit 20 minutes of exercise into your schedule let alone an hour-long trip to the gym?
But there is time. And once you start feeling the benefits of regular exercise, you’ll make sure there’s always time. Here are a few steps to getting started.
1. Get real with how you’re spending your time.
You only need 15 minutes a day to get started on a new exercise habit. Meanwhile, most people spend more than two hours a day scrolling through social media. How much time do you spend on your phone engaged in mindless scrolling or games?
For just five days, delete the social media apps on your phone. All of them!
Whether you’re used to scrolling on your phone in the morning, during your workday for a mental break, or in the evening, ask yourself what else you could be doing with that time?
2. Start with only 15 minutes—and keep it simple.
While society has probably made you feel like real exercise only counts if it’s an hour-long cross training workout, 15 minutes is worth your time.
You can find 15 minutes in your day to go for a walk or dance in the kitchen to your favorite playlist.
⦁ As soon as you wake up in the morning
⦁ Before/after you eat lunch
⦁ During your workday as a mental break
⦁ As soon as you get home from work
⦁ Make it a family walk/family dance party
⦁ March in place/dance while you watch your favorite TV show
⦁ After dinner
Remind yourself, “I can find 15 minutes in my day to move my body.”
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3. Change the belief in your head that you’re “too tired” for exercise.
Many people are convinced that they’re too tired in the morning or after work to exercise. But if you truly think about what your body has been doing all day, and what it needs, exercise is the most appropriate prescription.
If you’ve been sitting at a desk all day, your body isn’t too tired. Your mind is simply stressed. And what relieves stress better than anything else on the planet? Exercise. The endorphins your body produces during exercise will leave you feeling more relaxed and joyful than any TV show, glass of wine, or scrolling session on social media.
The less we exercise, the more lethargic we feel. Exercise gives us energy! Exercise is the fuel we need.
But you have to remind yourself of this every time that old messaging of “I’m too tired” starts creeping into your head. You have to remind yourself: “Actually, what my body is truly craving right now is exercise.”
You have to own this fact and force yourself to start moving.
4. Include your family.
Yes, they will complain—at first. “Why do we have to walk? I’m bored. This is boring. My legs are tired.”
Whether your children are 4 years old or 14, they can walk with you. Just as you’ve taught them the importance of saying “please” and “thank you” or brushing their teeth every night, you can teach them the importance of exercising their body, too.
Young children can run circles around a playground for an hour; they can also walk a mile or two.
Make it fun with activities while you walk:
⦁ A game of “I spy” throughout your neighborhood
⦁ Running to certain landmarks along the way (the telephone pole, the red mailbox, etc.)
⦁ Play 24 questions as you walk
⦁ Play the “If you could only eat one thing for dessert for the rest of your life…” game (moving on to “have one pet” or “play one sport” or “watch one movie,” etc.)
Your children may resist at first, but the messages we tell them over and over sink in bit by bit.
5. Acknowledge your habit of overeating or binge eating—because it’s likely stopping you from exercising.
If you are struggling with a regular habit of binge eating, it can be a major part of what’s keeping you from exercise. Not only does exercising on an overfull stomach feel terrible, that binge on food likely leaves you feeling like there’s no point in trying to do something healthy next.
The self-destruction that comes with regular binge eating isn’t just during the moments when you’re eating. Instead, the shame and guilt you feel can weigh on your mind heavily for hours or days—until your next binge.
Addressing this part of your life is critical. And it’s not easy. But the freedom you could gain from breaking this self-destructive habit is priceless.
Start by asking yourself a few questions and truly thinking through your answers:
⦁ What is it I truly need/want in those moments instead of food?
⦁ Does binge eating ever make me feel better?
⦁ How does binge eating actually make me feel?
⦁ What rules/beliefs do I have around food that fuel my binge eating habit?
⦁ Who can I ask for help with my binge eating habit?
It’s just a habit. A coping mechanism. A way to avoid feeling whatever it is you’re truly feeling. You can break this habit the moment you decide you’re tired of it. You truly can.
You deserve it.
Making exercise part of your life isn’t just part of a checklist or meeting fitness goals, it’s a daily statement that you care about you.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, insomnia, depression, insulin resistance, weight gain, or chronic fatigue, exercise is one of the simplest ways you can start treating that condition. Does it cure everything? Of course not. But it can make a big difference.
Making room in your life for daily exercise is a message to yourself that you’re worth it. That you deserve it. Eventually, you might even find that your daily exercise is as valuable as your morning cup of coffee!