Sometimes “exercise” sounds like such a dirty word. When uttered, it can feel like a scolding. Something you KNOW you should be doing. I hear that word and think “Ok, I need to change and drive to the gym…then I’ll lift for 30 minutes and use the treadmill for 20…then I’ll drive home, shower quickly….but I’ll still be sweating, so it will be another 30 minutes of drinking water and stretching. Then I can get dressed, but darn…I’ll have to blow dry my hair, curl it, and apply makeup because it’s back-to-school night for the kids….maybe I’ll just skip today.” UGH. You have heard this message a zillion times: “Exercise is good for your health, you must be exercising regularly to get the benefits”…what’s a girl to do? Guess what! In this post, I’m going to show you how to incorporate exercise EASILY for maximum self-care benefit.
“Exercise” isn’t exclusive to high-intensity sessions for hours at a time. MOVEMENT is the true meaning of exercise. All you need to do is move your muscles and burn calories! NOW we are getting somewhere…I can definitely move today. The way this relates to self-care is that it is something that you ENJOY doing that will give you both physical AND mental benefits. So the first step is to schedule MOVEMENT times that are fun! Forget about the pressure of calling it “exercise.”
Next, consider your self-care schedule (if you need to establish one, read my article here for a step by step process, or sign up for the free handout at the bottom of this page!). Determine how much time you have to fit in some “movement.” 30 minutes? That may be all you need to walk around the neighborhood. 5 hours? Maybe you can go for a long bike ride or even attend a Zumba class with your girlfriends. But schedule it into your daily routine. Do you enjoy checking Facebook? Hop on a stationary bike and combine the two.
Ok, the time is set aside so make a list of activities that you enjoy doing that involves movement. Also note if there are other people that you can involve! Things that I have on my list includes kayaking with the kids, hiking with my sister, and walking around the neighborhood with some of the “bus-stop moms” as soon as the kids get on the bus. Need some extra cash? Why not offer to walk someone’s dog 2 mornings a week! You get the idea. I have a printable master-list that I am always updating. Click here for my latest version!
Finally, link this activity to a reward. This is a sneaky psychology trick so that you look forward to maintaining this habit and ensure consistency. Examples would be signing-up for a fun 5K walk with girlfriends and rewarding yourself with a cute outfit to wear afterwards! Try not to reward yourself with food, but rather something nice for yourself. Other ideas include a manicure, pedicure, massage, facial, new sneakers, or even a bubble bath!
It takes 21 days to make something a habit, so start small and stay consistent. Try to increase the number of “movement” sessions per week before you increase the length and intensity. Involve friends or family to keep yourself accountable. Or commit-to and pay in advance so that you are more likely to follow through!
Sounds pretty do-able, right? Well here are some additional benefits of movement that may seal the deal:
- Improved Posture: as you strengthen and stretch your muscles, you release tension in your back which helps to improve posture and the way you carry yourself.
- Clearer Skin: increase blood flow carries nutrients to the skin, promotes improved circulation, and balances hormones. Hydration also improves skin tone and we tend to drink more water with movement.
- Increased Metabolism: increased calorie demand translate into increased calorie burn. Your body uses it’s “fuel” when you move more often.
- Better digestion: increased water, moves food through the body more quickly, decreases constipation
- Toned Muscles
- Lessens chronic disorders
- Improved attention and focus: leads to better blood flow to the brain causing it to perform well beyond your expectations. Your attention span increase with time, you become more likely to retain knowledge and information, and you analytical and thinking skills also become better than before. Endorphins, chemicals enhancing happiness and reducing pain, are released into your system when your exercise. This is one reason why you feel so motivated, energetic, focused, and rejuvenated after an intense workout session.
- Combating stress and depression: movement leads to the release of serotonin and endorphins giving you that adrenaline rush which makes you feel happier and lighter for the rest of the day. This works well if you are stressful, tensed, or need a way to vent out pent up frustration.
- Better stamina / higher energy levels: the days you increase movement, a burst of “happy” hormones (like serotonin) are released
- Good quality sleep: Sleep is the time that the body uses to rest (Click here for my post about the secrets of sleep!). Increasing your movement allows you to relax more easily and stay asleep due to the activities of the day.
- Better sex life: Yes please! When your stamina improves, your sex life improves too. And a good sex life decreases stress, releases happy hormones, and keeps you in a generally cheerful mindset. (Sex is also a form of exercise which will only add to your betterment. If the sex is good, the sleep will be good. If the sleep is good, your performance throughout the day will change drastically for the best!)
- Promotes brain health and memory retention