How many times have you been told to exercise? My guess is that you have been hearing it all your life. Of course exercise helps to keep you healthy, but there are also tremendous mental health benefits to it too. Research shows that exercise is better than any kind of medication for anxiety and depression.

Now that we have recapped some benefits of exercise, you might think Ugh! I hate to exercise. First of all most people do not enjoy it, or look forward to a workout. Many people like the way they feel afterwards. You might think that you don’t have a lot of time or money to exercise, or you just might not be motivated to do so.

The good news is you don’t have to have a long huge workout or cardio session to get the benefits. Any kind of movement is good. I just read a recent article from NPR on this topic.

Walking counts

According to sports psychologist Michelle Segar at the University of Michigan, walking is exercise. Many people don’t consider that perhaps they are already exercising, or this is something simple to do. You can do it alone, or with a friend whichever is easier or more enjoyable for you. If you aren’t already doing some sort of movement or workout, walking is one of the easiest things you can do. Now that the weather is getting nice, it is the perfect time to pull out your walking shoes.

Myths about exercise

One is that you have to break a sweat to get any benefits. This is not true. Any movement is good.

You must work out for 30 minutes at a time, or it doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter if you exercise all at once, or break it up into smaller increments.

If you don’t “feel the burn” it isn’t helpful. This is not true.

How to easily start an exercise routine

She also comes up with ways to begin an exercise routine that is doable. Here are the suggestions:

All movement counts

According to the heart association, adults should get at a minimum 150 minutes of ‘moderately intense’ exercise per week. You might be surprised at what counts in this category, such as washing the floor, bringing groceries upstairs (a big benefit for those of you who don’t live on the first floor of your apartment), dancing, and mowing the lawn. It can be broken up into smaller increments. If you haven’t been exercising, then you want to increase slowly.

All movement counts towards a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t sitting down, it’s a good thing. Simple ways to get more exercise are to park farther away from work or the grocery store, or take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Exercising is not black and white

Get rid of your all or nothing thinking. You don’t have to run a marathon or do an hour of cardio for it to count. Remember if you haven’t been active you want to increase your work out in small increments so you don’t over do it. You can even start with a 5-minute walk. Increasing the length of time you walk every few days helps. Or you can keep doing the 5-minute walk, but do it 2-3 times per day. The benefit to your heart is the same whether you do it all at once, or break it up. What’s important is that it is something you can stick with. Start with small goals, so you can celebrate your success.

Pay attention to how you feel

Don’t focus on weight loss. This type of measurement can derail you if you don’t lose weight at the pace you think you should. Pay attention to the way it makes you feel. Perhaps you aren’t as winded as you were to start with. Maybe you are feeling fitter, have more energy, are sleeping better or feel happier. Any exercise you do is good for you.

Find out what type of exercise works best for you

Do you prefer to work out at a gym or at home? Is exercising with a friend or by yourself your preference? Do you want to be indoors or outdoors? It is important that it fits your lifestyle and something you somewhat enjoy. Or perhaps it’s the least of all evils.

Set small goals and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve them. When working with people who are setting exercise goals, I always recommend starting with a few days per week. If you say you want to work out everyday, you are setting yourself up for failure. Make your goals doable.

If getting started or motivated for an exercise routine is challenging for you, give me a call at 713-304-6554. We can work on setting goals that are doable for you.

Take care,