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The Most Important Exercise Happens Outside of the Gym

Creating and sustaining change can be one of the most frustrating pieces of your health journey. Most of us have firsthand experience with the yo-yo effect, where we seem to make monumental progress forward with losing weight and being active only to relapse into our old behaviors. We gain the weight back, and we became even more disheartened.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 60% of us get no regular physical activity.
  • 25% of us get no activity at all.
  • 50% of those who begin exercising quit within six months.
  • 90% of all exercise equipment is unused and relegated to a coat rack or cat perch one year after purchase.

What do these statistics tell us? That until you’ve gotten your weight under control, increased your flexibility, developed a more active lifestyle, and organized your daily choices to support health, the honest truth is that launching yourself into a full-blown exercise program just isn’t likely to be successful.

That’s why, in the Habits of Health System, we focus on simple movements and activities that you can incorporate into your daily life right away, regardless of your current health, weight, or fitness level. They’re easy, they help you maintain your weight, and they serve as the transition to a more healthy and active lifestyle. These Habits of Motion are the foundation of a total movement program – a program that you can use for life.

Eventually, a formal exercise routine that likely involves some weight training and more intense cardiovascular exercise will become a part of your lifestyle. Early in your journey, however, finding creative ways to build active habits outside of formally scheduled exercise is a bigger win for your short- and long-term health. These habits are easier to build because they are small and less challenging, but they can burn an impressive number of calories.

Here are some ideas for gradually introducing more motion into your daily life:

  • Walk more. Park farther away from the door to the office, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and go to the far watercooler for a drink instead of the close one. Extra steps can add up to big wins, so steal a few whenever you can.
  • Stand more. Getting a phone call? Take it standing. Sit at a desk all day? Consider a standing desk. By leaving a seated position more frequently, we not only burn more calories but fend off many of the serious health consequences that can come with prolong periods of sitting.
  • Use your offhand. If you are doing chores at home or have a tedious task at work, try using your non-dominate hand. Challenging yourself this way can feel goofy, but it’s good for your brain health and burns extra calories along the way.

There are thousands of points throughout your day where you can inject just a little bit more motion. Overtime, these little additions add up to not only help you reach your health goals but also to prepare you for the exercise program you adopt later. If you try to skip ahead to a 60-minute workout, you will likely be frustrated. Instead, take small steps to start, and begin a formal exercise routine when you have the momentum of health and stronger habits on your side.

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