If we want to continue focusing on beauty through a complete and holistic approach, then we mustn’t avoid the topic of exercise and physical fitness. It’s such an annoying word, isn’t it? Exercise. Pain. Inconvenience. As in, do I really have to take time away from my busy schedule, get up from this couch, move, flail my arms kind of awkwardly, get all out of breath, make myself sweaty, then hop in the shower, then do this again every day for the rest of my life? When looked at in this way, of course exercise will make anyone dizzy with resistance. We do it anyway, at least most of us, because we know it’s good for us.
But how many people actually exercise because they feel the benefits from the movement?
I’m talking about feeling good because you’ve just oxygenated your body and flooded your brain with endorphins. Or feeling blah because you’ve been sitting, barely moving for weeks and your back hurts and now the last thing you want to do to is get up and move, so you just keep sitting there and feeling blah.
When you take the time to listen to your body, it’s hard to ignore just how essential movement is to your life.
Listening to your body is important. So is getting your priorities straight. People often pick exercise goals such as losing weight, looking good, or garnering others’ admiration as their priority. They miss the point of what exercise is about. Unless you’re a professional athlete or you take yourself seriously as one, the main goal of exercise should be to feel great. And to maintain a healthy level of energy.
Now you know 2 things that will help to make exercise become a more natural part of your daily life:
1) Listening to your body and giving it what it needs. If you’re feeling tired all the time, it may mean that you’re not moving enough, you’re not exercising properly, or you’re exercising too much. If you’re feeling energetic, good! Keep up what you’re doing. Don’t forget, your body also needs essential nutrients and good quality sleep to complement your daily physical exertions.
2) Exercising for the right reasons. Exercise for circulation, oxygenation, invigoration, and flexibility in your joints. And while you’re at it, why not also make it fun? Don’t worry, all those other things (losing weight, looking hot, etc.) will naturally come about as a result.
As someone who lives by the “Small and Frequent” maxim, I am constantly finding ways to integrate little movements throughout my day. I like Small movements because I lose interest when things go on for too long. I like Frequent movements because when you’re used to moving all the time it’s easy to stay moving (call this the momentum of movement). The opposite is also true. When you’re used to sitting and being sedentary it’s really hard to get yourself going (call this the inertia of stillness). Small and frequent movements are a simple way to maintain the momentum of movement.
So what do I do?
I usually start my day with 15-20 minutes of yoga. If I’m pressed for time, I find that a few rounds of Sun Salutations will do (yogajournal.com has several videos for free under 20 minutes, try this vigorous version of the Sun Salutation).
When I’m working, which involves a computer and sitting down for hours, I use the pomodoro technique. This technique typically means you work for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes. But you can adjust the time blocs to whatever feels best. There are several computer timer apps that can help you with this (I use the Tea Timer Widget).
- Jumping jacks are always a good idea. Try twisting, hopping, stretching and any other little movement you can think of.
- Even if you just stand up and two-step in place to the music in your head, it’s already a good start. And a sure way to get noticed as that funky dude in the office.
- You can do a lot of movement within those 5 minutes. And when you do them throughout the day, it really adds up. So for example, if you work 8 hours a day and you take 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes that’s 80 minutes of small and frequent movements that day. Pretty good, huh?
After work, I will usually find an excuse to go for a walk. I’ll go on a photo hunt, or I’ll take a stroll along the Seine river.
- If I’m not feeling up for a walk, I will either do another longer yoga session (myyogaonline.com is another site filled with a great variety of yoga videos of different lengths, levels, teachers and styles. They also have a lot of other health resources.)
- Or, recently I’ve been practicing the small movements from the Quest for a Ballet Body series (these little movements are perfect during your 5 minute breaks).
- Or, for when I’m feeling hard core, I’ll do a 12 minute intense interval training through one of the videos from bodyrock.tv. I have a 7 pound kettle bell (haha, so hard core right?) that I use instead of a sand bag.
During the weekends, I’ll pick one day to go for a jog. I usually never run for longer than 40 minutes, but I always throw in a few intense sprints during my jog. I get way more out of these short sprints than running for an hour at the same moderate speed.
AND, I am ALWAYS walking to or from somewhere.
I find that these small and frequent movements are the key to maintaining a healthy level of energy. My blood circulation is good, my muscles are toned and I feel light and limber. The little movements really do add up, you just have to be consistent. At the same time, it’s important to adopt a relaxed attitude towards fitness and do things only because you actually like doing them. When movement becomes an easy and natural part of your life, you will have a steady supply of energy, you will feel great and it will really show!
The fitness resources I mentioned above are free! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be helping myself to them. The only exception is myyogaonline.com, but I’ve signed up with them because they are holding a really awesome deal right now ($18 for three months of access to really great yoga videos and resources).
What about you? What do you do to stay moving and flowing throughout the day?