How many times have you thought to yourself “I should hit the gym,” and then not actually done it? All the time? You are not alone, my friend. Working out is tough, but the hardest thing about it is finding both the time and motivation. Those two things don’t always sync up. It’s difficult to convince yourself to go for a run when you’ve been running after your kids or at work all day. Add in the pandemic keeping everyone indoors and totally stressed out, and working out becomes even less of a priority. But there’s good news – you don’t have to spend hours and hours at the gym to improve your health. Believe it or not, ANY consistent exercise is better than no exercise.
You may have heard the recommendation “150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week is best for your health.” That first option means five, 30-minute basic workouts every week. Many people find that really difficult to fit in with all of life’s obligations. The 150/75 recommendation is true, but studies have actually found that there are benefits to much shorter bouts. That’s right – you can do your body good in only 10 minutes a day of regular exercise!
One study found that people who did about 10 minutes of walking every day improved their cardiovascular fitness. Other studies show that it raises your HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and has other measurable health benefits. A simple walk around your neighborhood with your family may be enough to clear your head and improve your mood.
Balance quantity and quality
What I want you to take away from this idea is that working out doesn’t have to intimidate you. Even if you want to eventually work your way up to that 150/75 goal, it is perfectly fine to start small. In fact, you’re actually better off starting that way if you aren’t currently exercising at much at all. Establishing the habit of exercise is what will get you working out consistently, and it’s much easier to make something a habit if it’s, well, easier! Consistency in workouts is better than having a huge sweat session every so often that doesn’t inspire you to keep up the practice. Once you’re used to getting in regular workouts – and, more importantly, enjoying them – then you can focus on increasing the length.
There are a few caveats to this idea. First, no matter what type or length of workout you choose, always make sure you’re following safety guidelines and using proper form to prevent injury. Second, of course more exercise has more health benefits. Ideally, we’d all be getting in daily workouts that push us to new limits. But, despite what your meat-head coworker says, it’s perfectly fine to start with 10 minutes of restorative yoga each day if that makes you feel good. Don’t let the “feel the burn” naysayers get you down! You want to teach yourself to LIKE exercise. Burning yourself out on it won’t help you change your habits.
You are worth the effort
Before I got into an exercise routine, I struggled with motivation, too. I actually wish I’d heard this advice back then, because I bet I’d have gotten into a routine much more easily. I was never an “athletic” person. If I can learn to work out five days a week, I promise that you can, too. Just remember that it is okay to start with smaller workouts. Heck, even if that’s all you do for the rest of your life, you’ll be better off. Any exercise is better than no exercise at all! You deserve to improve your health. You’ve got a lot of living to do!