Six Habits for Busy Would-Be Exercisers
Get ready for bathing suit season without spending hours at the gym.
-Art Markman, Ph.D., YouBeauty.com
Spring is (just about) here. Now that you can shed your winter clothes and spend some more time outdoors, it’s time to figure out how to work a bit more exercise into your schedule.
If you’re like most people, though, the problem is that your days are jammed with things to do. Getting more exercise means changing some of your habits to add more physical activity into your day. Habits can be hard to change because you do them mindlessly, but you don’t need a two-hour window for the gym to make exercise a part of your life.
Sometimes, the best way to change your behavior is to make small changes to your existing habits rather than trying to create whole new behaviors. With exercise, every little bit helps, so even small changes can make a big difference.
Here are six simple ways to exercise more without making any major changes:
Wear a pedometer. Extra walking each day is great exercise. To help you track your progress, buy a pedometer, which will measure how much you walk. You can get them inexpensively at most drugstores and sporting goods stores. Put a sheet of paper in your bathroom, and write down how far you walk each day (or how many steps you take). As the number grows, you’ll see the difference these little changes can make in your daily exercise.
Park far away. You probably run at least a couple of errands each day where you hop in the car to go to the store. When you get to the parking lot, park your car in the first spot near the entrance to the lot (the farthest spot from the store). Walking across the lot will only add a few minutes to your trip, and you’ll get to move around a bit.
Take a lunchtime stroll. Carve out a few minutes from your lunch break. Before you start eating, step outside and take a 10-15 minute walk. Use the time to think about what has happened in the day so far. Not only will the exercise be good for your body, but 15 minutes away from your email and phone will do your mind some good as well.
Walk and talk. If you have some phone calls to take care of, then try having them while on the move. Find a path near your home or office that isn’t too loud. When you discover that you have a 15- or 30-minute phone call on your schedule, hit the road. But, make sure you walk for a few minutes before you start the call to give yourself a chance to catch your breath before you start talking.
Take the stairs. Not all of your exercise needs to be done outdoors. At least once a day skip the elevator going up and take the stairs. Even if you walk up only a few flights, you are adding some great movement to your day.
Bring a friend. And finally, get some friends involved. It can be difficult to change your behavior all by yourself. Find an exercise buddy or walking partner. There are four great reasons to exercise with someone else. First, when you are tired and don’t feel like exercising, it is easier to convince yourself to skip a workout than it is to have to call your partner and say you are skipping out. Second, you and your buddy can help to remind each other when it is time to exercise. Third, you and your exercise buddy can motivate each other to add time, distance or intensity to your workouts. Fourth, if you find walking or exercising boring, then a partner helps to pass the time.
Even if you already go to the gym a couple of times a week, these tips can help keep you exercising a bit every day. You might spend a little extra time each day walking, but this time will be repaid with more energy and greater focus.
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