This series of articles is for you if you hate exercise and might prefer to be buried under a mound of Tofu rather than break a sweat. I would like to help you think through how to get healthier without “exercising,” as you might perceive it.
Don’t worry, it isn’t my desire to convince you of any of these things:
- That you should exercise
- That exercising is good for you.
- That it’s fun. (Nothing you hate to do is fun, even if some well-meaning, uber fit person wants you to think so.)
- That your risk of death and disease is greater when you are sedentary.
To that last point, scary information, even if it is true, is rarely enough to turn a non-exerciser into an exerciser, at least not for more than a short while.
Let Me Hear Your Body Talk…
As one progresses in age, especially into the decades of our 40’s and 50’s, being inactive produces its own kind of “encouragement.” Your body parts start to nag. Or one part goes off on you, as if it had years of bottled up anger and finally let you have it. Something like:
- Knee pain that stabs unexpectedly or gives you a visible limp
- Weight gain that presses on the seams of all your clothes, and irritates you
- Your back suddenly goes out, over picking up a paper clip
- You can’t sleep because of Sleep Apnea or acid reflux burning in your chest and throat
- Diabetes, High BP, High Cholesterol, Triglycerides, can’t be tamed without medication that makes you feel worse.
Some people respond to these “nudges” by becoming even less active and taking more medication. To a non-exerciser, moving more or “exercising” seems even less appealing. As these symptoms develop, moving may even be physically painful.
How would you even start?
First of all, if it has gotten to this point, see your doctor first. In fact, if it has been a while, consider getting a physical, if you can. Find out what your real health risks are. If the doctor agrees that moving more would be a good idea, then pass go. Just don’t go crazy and spend $200 on a gym membership.
You can start very slowly and still make a big impact on your health. If you have been sedentary, the best place to start is here:
Pattern Interrupt: Get up from sitting and pace around for 3 minutes each hour. That’s 24 minutes a day of better blood flow to your brain and vital organs, and you did not even need to dust off your leg warmers.
This tiny little thing will help save your life and get you going in a healthier direction. The key is this: you must frequently interrupt bouts of sitting. No, this will not prepare you for skiing or basketball. It will “only” help prevent disease and death. It might help reverse the gradual but real health decline that you are on right now if you sit too much. Don’t feel bad. Even people who do exercise also sit too much. It can kill them too.
Just to prove I am not making this up, here is an article to help substantiate how important it is for you to take this first step:
The Sneaky Power of Simplicity
As easy as it sounds to get up and move each hour, it is actually a big change that makes a big difference. It also involves the conscious effort of establishing a new routine. Humans are notoriously bad at this. All change takes time, even the easy stuff.
How would you go about establishing this new, simple routine that could save your life? I have an idea for you that you might even think is fun.
I will answer that question in my next post.