They say sitting is the new smoking. Few of us need convincing that exercise is good for us. Yet it is the very thing we abandon when life gets busy. An accountant during tax season. A lawyer during a trial. A caregiver to an ailing parent. A mom or dad with a sick child at home. Life can turn us upside down for a day, a month, a year and more. Few of us would debate the legitimacy of not working out during these storms especially when we dismiss simple steps, literal and figurative, that we can take.
We tend to adopt a narrow definition of exercise as something like a daily hour long sweat fest at the gym. So when an hour of working out plus transport and shower is just not going to happen, we bail altogether. We opt for no activity if we can't do what we call exercise. This scenario may be the exception to an otherwise consistent commitment to being active or it may be a daily negotiation.
But we do know better. We know that moving will reduce stress, energize us, ensure better sleep, and awaken clarity and creativity. The very things we need most during these challenges can be found through movement.
We need a new approach which does not allow for inertia.
- Expand your definition of exercise to include simply movement. Just move. A stroll, stairs vs. elevator, a quick dip in the pool, a stretch. The message is that the body will keep moving despite the raging storm.
- Anchor exercise habit with other responsibilities. Hold a walking lunch with a colleague. Walk, pace, or stretch during a conference call.
- Be inclusive. Chances are we are not as present for the ones that matter most as we manage these chaotic days. Walk the dog around the block with your kids. Meet a friend at a yoga class. Bike to the farmers market with your spouse. Replace meeting at the bar for drinks with a stroll in nature.
- Be brutally honest with yourself about your dedication to exercise. Are you avoiding it or are you in circumstances that require adjustments? Time to get real.
- Get up immediately at the sound of the morning alarm. Stretch and move until the snooze button goes off.
- Reserve a favorite show for enjoyment while on exercise equipment or do sit ups and pushups before the show and immediately after.
Being exceptionally busy is not permission to abandon ourselves. In fact physical activity is the very remedy to the chaos. Exceptional care is the thing we need most during these times. We need to be accountable and steadfast to the commitment to move. It is about asking ourselves how we navigate the day while honoring the body's need to move not whether we move. Liberate yourself from the indecision and the accompanying self shaming.
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