By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
The internet is full of great exercise videos. The news publishes reports daily about the benefits of exercise. Yet I hear the same refrain from people all the time: I don’t have time to exercise. I have great sympathy for those with no time to workout. And I offer you this: maybe it’s not that you don’t have time. Maybe it’s more a question of changing our thinking about exercise rather than finding time to exercise.
In the U.S., we tend to compartmentalize exercise. We think we can only exercise if we go to special places and wear special clothes. We think “we have to sweat to be doing any good.” But these are all myths.
Exercise myths include:
• Exercise is something we only do at the gym.
• Exercise is something you need a personal trainer to do.
• Exercise requires long hours of sweat and exertion to be effective.
• Exercise is something we have to set aside large chunks of time to accomplish.
These belief’s only keep us from doing what we need to do. Before The Industrial Revolution, people got “exercise” doing daily chores and work. Farmers and farm hands got “exercise” toiling in the fields, herding cattle, riding horses around the ranch, milking cows, etc. Before “labor-saving devices” like dishwashers, washers and dryers and the infamous automobile, people got “exercise” every day without needing gyms or “workouts.” Of course, people didn’t live as long. 40-45 was the average life expectancy. But since then we’ve made great progress in modern medicine, diet and education. People don’t HAVE to labor to earn a living. And labor-oriented jobs have been leaving the U.S. for years. So how do we get our daily exercise dose?
Flash forward to the typical American life in 2010. Male or female, the typical American works 50-60 hours, drives or takes a train or bus to work, averaging 1 hour commute each way. With a few small children at home, by the time mom or dad gets done helping kids with homework, preparing dinner, and putting the kids to bed, the day is done and it’s time for a little TV time. There is little time to “work out.”
So, think about putting a little labor back into your life. You don’t have to go to the gym to ‘work out.” If you can find the time and need the focus of the gym to squeeze in some cardio or strength training, go for it. But if going to the gym means taking precious time away from the family, incorporate your kids into your workout. use yoga tapes or the Wii Fit at home. Make it a family fun time.
Ways to Put a Little “Labor” Back Into Your Life
• If you normally try to park as close as possible to the store or work, park farther away. The extra walk will do you good!
• Hang your laundry on a clothesline outdoors to dry (also saves energy and money).
• Plant a garden and spend time weeding, watering and enjoying your garden a few minutes every day.
• If you take public trans, get of or on the bus/train/etc. a few blocks earlier.
• At work, do some mid-day squats at your desk. Simply stand up then start to sit down. But don’t let yourself sit. As you feel the chair under your posterior, slowly stand back up again. Then “sit” again, without resting on the chair. Lather, Rinse and repeat 10 times.
• Take a walk around the block after dinner. Even a 15-min walk helps you feel better, teaches your kids the benefits of exercise and allows you to spend quality time with your family.
• Whenever possible, at work, take the stairs. If you can, take two 10 minute breaks each day to walk up and down a few flights of stairs. Don’t run, take your time so you don’t get sweaty! Your form is more important than trying to race up the stairs.
• In parking garages, take the stairs, too, versus the elevator.
• If you live in a home with stairs and you are doing housework, putting away laundry, etc., make more trips up and down the stairs.
• If you don’t have kids, get a dog. You are more likely to make walking the dog part of your daily routine than if you were to take yourself for a daily walk!
• If you are single and live alone, get to know your neighbors. Help out the sick and elderly by volunteering to do their chores. It will give you exercise and make you feel good about yourself!
• Buy a set of dumbbells (even Target sells them!) and do basic resistance training at home in front of the television. (Versus sitting on the coach with a bag of chips!)
• Take your kids to a water park, a forest preserve or a park on the weekends. Climb the stairs of a few slides with your kids. At a forest preserve or park, paddle boat or canoe with them. Take nature walks.
• Ride your bike to work or around the neighborhood after work, before dinner.
How to Get a total Body Workout without going to the gym here.
Reasons why you don’t exercise here.
The best exercises for lazy people here.
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