You know how important exercise is, right? Yes? So why is it that the most active thing you’ve done lately is go to the mailbox for your Netflix DVD? I know, I know: “Well, ummm, I’m totally planning on making up for it first thing tomorrow.”
Right — until you conveniently hit your snooze button 30 times and have to bail so you’re not late for work. I at least look at my workout gear before rolling over! Kidding (sort of). Seriously though, it’s not enough to say you’re going to exercise — you have to actually do it (gasp!). Here’s how to suck it up when you prefer pastries to push-ups.
If there’s one thing yoga has taught me, it’s that I have the innards of an 80-year-old. I’ve also learned that putting on yoga tights is as much of a workout as the yoga itself. Like you, I’m not exactly an exercise savant — I love the idea of exercise, but when it comes right down to it I’ll do anything to avoid it. Like laundry. And flossing.
My hatred for exercise started where every woman’s starts: In elementary school gym class, where I was the little engine that couldn’t-and-didn’t-care. I used so many fake injuries and illnesses to get out of track, field and everything that ended in “-ball,” I’m not sure my gym teacher even knew what I looked like.-
Now, I’m starting to creak and limp and things are falling off. I know I’m about 15 years late getting on the bandwagon, but better late than never, right? (Right?!) Because I’m cool like that, I’ve compiled five exercise tips to help us bust through every exercise excuse in the book. Who’s coming with me?
“It actually takes a lot longer to avoid working out than it does to just do it and get the health benefits,” says Dr. Carmella Sebastian, MS, author of Sex and Spaghetti Sauce: My Italian Mother’s Recipe for Getting Healthy and Getting Busy in Your 50s and Beyond. It’s recommended we exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes a week, which breaks down to 30 minutes per weekday or 20 minutes daily including weekends.
Thirty minutes equals one episode of The Big Bang Theory. In fact, you could work out while watching it to distract yourself from how lazy you’ve been all these years. Genius! Or spread it out: “Do five minutes of jumping jacks and take the stairs a couple of times and you’ll easily hit 10 minutes,” says Sebastian.
Thanks to every television show we watched during adolescence, we’ve been made to feel like we need a gym membership to be a contender — but such is not the case. There are plenty of online options that are not only inexpensive, but convenient. (Just check out the oodles of iPhone and iPad apps that are available.) Plus, there’s the bonus of not being in a room full of people who take it upon themselves to sweat all over you.
If you find working out to be a total snore, then try speed-dating different types of workouts until you find one you enjoy. (That’s how yoga and I started dating. I found yoga’s online profile to be deep and meaningful and we really hit it off.) “If all else fails, have sex,” says Sebastian. “A good romp in the hay can burn significant calories and strengthen the heart, while releasing feel-good hormones.” Well, if you insist.
There’s nothing more thankless than finishing your first 20-minute workout in 20 years, only to find you still look exactly the same afterward. The one thing that’s helped me get over the impatience that comes with exercising is ditching the entire concept of exercise goals. We have so many pressures and expectations on ourselves as it is, why add another? Exercise for the immediate benefit of not feeling like crap anymore, and you’ll be more likely to keep it up.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of having a workout buddy, but what if your friends are like little lazy gremlins who sit on your shoulder and tell you to choose caffeine over cardio? “There are so many cool, connected, and virtual ways to find others with the same gripes,” says Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, creators of Pound Rockout Workout. “Online workout classes often have an entire lifestyle that accompany the sweat seshes, and that’s what leads to triumph over laziness and indifference.”
I completely agree — the more successful workouts I complete on the Yoga Studio app, the more coupons, discounts and goodies I score (you know, on top of the whole self-satisfaction thing).
You have to keep in mind it’s not you who has the problem with exercising: It’s the 12-year-old you who missed the basket, struck out and couldn’t even earn honorable mention ribbons that’s holding you back. Let’s treat her now how she should’ve been treated then, shall we? Then afterward, we can all go out for ice cream.