Thursday, March 4, 2010

Every little bit counts . . .

Shadow of Me Walking
Shadow of me urban hiking last month

Given recommendations that we should exercise anywhere from 30 minutes a day to five hours per week to maintain fitness (and even more to actively lose weight!), it can seem a bit daunting to accomplish especially for people with a busy enough lifestyle or trying to ditch their sedentary lifestyles. Don't worry, even active folks have their days of exercise dread too.

In any case, if the idea of continually working out for 30+ minutes seems impossible, break it up! As I've noted in an Associated Press article, by breaking up a regimen in smaller segments 1) it's a lot easier to squeeze into the schedule (three 10-minute sections versus a half-hour block) 2) psychologically the routine is a lot easier to accomplish, since the partial goal is so much closer and 3) even if you manage to only partially complete the day's worth of mini-routines, you are still getting SOME fitness-building activity in, which is definitely better than getting NO activity because you can't set aside the time/energy for a longer workout session.

Now, longer stretches of exercise have their advantages too (more intense calorie burn, building endurance and prolonged cardio-fitness, not needing to change in and out of activewear so often, etc.) but it just leaves so much room for the "all or nothing" mentality, which can easily cause one to fall off the wagon, particularly the newly active.

Even now I regularly break my workouts up and almost always completing that first segment gives me the encouragement to finish the rest. And for truly long sessions like my daylong urban hike last month from downtown LA to the Santa Monica pier, I gave myself "mini goals" along the way (Silver Lake for breakfast, West Hollywood for lunch, so on . . .) to make that 21+ mile journey a lot less intimidatng.

If you think shorter segments might the way to go for you, here's a tip from me: do your first 5- to 15-minute workout first thing after you wake up, since it sets the tone for the rest of the day and you'll be more likely to want to finish what you started, and rest any tempting treats that may offset your hard-earned fitness.


Glenn Jones said...

Sorry I missed you on Sunday! It *was* a fun race ....

Needak Rebounder said...

I know what you mean about 30 minutes of straight exercise - I couldn't control looking at the watch every 5 minutes hoping that 30 mins had passed already. I finally found my solution and now what I do is break up my cardio workout into three 10 minute sessions that I do throughout the day. And this is especially doable with a rebounder - I do three different workouts all on the one peice of equipment and it has been very effective for me so far.