If I asked you to exercise every day of your life, would that strike you as extreme?
Most people would say YES. Only proper fitness obsessives would torture themselves daily with exercise. Surely that can’t even be good for you?!
If I could change just one message from the fitness world that’s lodged itself into our psyche, I would completely reframe the notion of exercise.
We know we “should” exercise more, and most versions of this idea include a lot of straining and no paining, no gaining. I would be the first to tell you that most people shouldn’t be doing intense exercise every day. Especially not when you’re getting started.
When I talk about daily exercise, I mean something different. I mean getting up and moving your body in natural, gentle ways. Like it was meant to do! Most people can tolerate this concept better when I call it “daily movement”.
I believe EVERYONE can commit to moving their body daily. And I’m also certain that we all benefit from finding ways to INCREASE our daily movement.
Ditching the perfectionist mindset
Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that if we can’t get in a 45 minute workout, then anything at all is a waste of time. You know we love a good structured sweat session at New Image, this can be an intimidating starting point. (If this sounds like you, read our post on the pitfalls of all or nothing thinking here).
With exercise, perfectionism is well and truly the enemy of good enough.
What if I told you just to get up and walk for 10 minutes today. Does that sound achievable? Could you possibly squash that defeatist voice in your head?: “10 minutes? What’s the point! No one can get results in 10 minutes a day!”
I promise you, something is ALWAYS better than nothing. Why not challenge yourself to do a little bit, actually get it done, and then feel great about yourself?
Daily movement is habit forming
If you promise yourself that every day you will move your body purposefully – even if only for 10 minutes at first – you become an exerciser. (You can read more about habit formation in this book one of our favourites!) Every time you keep that commitment to yourself, to your body, to your health, you are reinforcing exercise as a daily habit that you just do.
And guess what? This habit is naturally rewarding, because moving your body gently feels good!
You become a person who can keep promises not just to everyone around you, but to yourself. When you honour your word by following through daily and honour your body by caring for it, you actively grow in self esteem. And with every day that you build upon your habit, this surge in self belief compounds.
For most people, the biggest barrier to moving is the thought of it. The hardest part is to put your comfy clothes and runners on. If you can commit to doing this bit daily, the 10 minutes (that’s my initial ask!) is easy.
Moving your body is just good for you
It’s not just the huffy puffy sweaty stuff that’s good for us. Numerous studies show that regular exercise (we’re talking walking) is one of the BEST single things you can do for your health. It even has a preventative effect for a range of lifestyle related conditions.
Want to feel better and mentally clearer? Get moving. Want better sleep? A morning walk in the sunshine makes you feel tired at nighttime when you’re supposed to. Digestion feeling sluggish? Daily movement will help get things regular too.
For people suffering depression and anxiety, things get a little more complicated. But we know that exercise is highly effective as part of a treatment plan. Small bursts of movement (again, we’re talking a 10 minute walk) is a less daunting place to start and can have a big impact.
We weren’t designed to sit still for hours looking at a screen. We’re built to be out in the sun during the day, moving in different directions and and resting at night in a dark and cool environment. This is not the reality for many of us who work sedentary jobs and have long commutes. So we need to build an element of these factors into our lives somewhat artificially.
For now, I challenge you to make daily movement your goal.
You can make a MASSIVE difference LONG TERM, that’s right, LONG TERM if you focus on small bouts movement throughout our days.
I know and YOU know that we have windows of time, sometimes five minutes, 10 minutes and possibly 30 minutes when we’re in between tasks at work, waiting for our kids to finish school or training, during ad breaks on TV or we simply have downtime to get some movement in. You just need to prioritise and have an idea of what to do.
We want to support you
We’re so passionate about the benefits of daily movement that we’ve designed a 21 Day Challenge to get you to do just that! I get that committing to exercising every day for the rest of you life is a leap right now, but could you make a promise to yourself, for yourself, to move for 21 days straight?
We start our 21 Day Challenge on Monday September 16 and everyone is welcome! We’ll guide you through it with daily programs you can complete at home. We designed our programs to inspire you with doable sessions to build mobility, fitness, strength and all round wellbeing. But more importantly, you’ll finish each and every day feeling productive and like you’ve really achieved something!
All you have to do is make the commitment. It’s all about building momentum, and Spring is the best time to get out and enjoy the sunshine and get those natural feel-good rewards for your efforts.
You can register for the Challenge from Thursday September 5. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more.