Small Changes, Big Results
In the Habits of Health System, our approach to exercise continues to surprise people who think they know what it takes to reach and thrive at a healthy weight. They see ads on television for fancy new exercise equipment and for gym memberships and they have a neighbor down the street does a lot of swinging sledge hammers and flipping tires.
What we have found to be most effective—from the medical literature and from our years of experience in the field—runs counter to what the fitness industry might have you believe.
In our program, the path to meaningful, lasting weight loss does not begin with a daunting workout routine. In fact, the results of that approach are the exact opposite of what we would want: Most people cannot sustain the rapid, extreme change from being mostly sedentary to suddenly adopting an intense exercise schedule. They try the new program for a few weeks and then tend to revert back into their old Habits of Disease.
Formal exercise programs are an important part of optimal wellbeing (just to be clear), but they are not the only Habit of Healthy Motion, nor are they the most effective starting point.
The Habits of Health System encourages people to increase their activity levels outside of the gym first: More walking, more standing instead of sitting, more doing household chores by hand, more moving to the music of your favorite songs. Your daily life is full of opportunities to burn more calories, and improving those Habits of Healthy Motion is a more accessible—and therefore more sustainable—first step toward optimal wellbeing for the vast majority of people who are frustrated with their health.
Simply being less sedentary is a huge win for your longevity, and the science continues to confirm that. For example, a recent study found spending 30 minutes a day walking instead of sitting could mean a reduced chance (by as much as 24% in this small study) of cardiovascular disease as well as a reduced risk of dying from other causes (by as much as 11%).
The study even goes as far as to suggest that the 30 minutes could be broken up into 10-minute chunks, which means you can sprinkle small doses of walking throughout your day.
As you gradually adopt more Habits of Healthy Motion in your daily life, you can start to add formal workouts as well (talk to your physician and your health coach before you make a significant change in your activity level).
Our ultimate goal is to build new behaviors that you can sustain in the long-term. While a small change like walking more might not seem as significant as being in the gym for an hour, it’s a powerful shift in your activity. That movement in itself produces clear rewards—and the research agrees—and it sets the stage for lasting, vibrant change in the future.