Week One: The first step to long-term exercise success

Toby Dog helps with ab workout!

Toby Dog helps with ab workout!

Let’s not beat around the bush. Let’s have some real talk about exercise. If you’re like most adults, you’re in one of two categories. One, you hate exercise, hate all forms of it and dread the thought of it, or two, you really don’t mind exercise but just cannot possibly squeeze one more thing to your already overcrowded daily schedule. But let’s consider this:

According to the CDC, only 20.8 percent of adults in America meet the CDC’s recommended physical activity guidelines (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm).

That’s a pretty sobering statistic. What it translates to is that if you are in a room with five people, only one of you gets enough exercise per week. Now that we have that out in the open, how much does the average adult really need? In order to receive health benefits from exercise, adults need at least:

• 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes per week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (walking briskly) and two or more days per week muscle-strengthening activities; OR
• 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (75 minutes of jogging or running per week) and two or more days per week muscle-strengthening activities; OR
• An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and two or more days per week muscle-strengthening activities.


Wait, hold that quick clicker finger, don’t leave yet! Keep reading, it’s not as hopeless as you think, there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
Let’s use the first option as a discussion example. If you choose walking as your aerobic activity, that’s 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Throw in the strength training at 10 minutes two days per week, it averages out to 34 minutes, five days a week.

Okay, okay, I hear you groaning and mumbling that you just don’t have that much time. Since we’re being real, how much time to you spend on the couch with the remote in hand, aimlessly flipping channels and complaining that there’s nothing on worth watching? How much time do you spend on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media or just surfing the Internet? If we’re completely honest, you could take a few minutes from those activities and more than make the time you need each day for exercise.

One other issue we need to address – I often hear “I don’t exercise/eat healthy because I don’t need to lose weight.” Whether you need to lose weight or not, exercising and eating healthy are what keep you in shape as well as the path to getting you there. Even if weight loss is not a goal for you, long-term lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, certain cancers and arthritis just to name a few. God also tells us to take care of our earthly bodies:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

Earlier I promised you light at the end of the tunnel, so here we go. The good news is, exercise doesn’t have to be painful and dreaded! You don’t have to push yourself until you’re drenched in sweat and in pain. Exercise can be simple and fun if you make a long-term plan, don’t overdo it in the beginning and take it one small step at the time. Here are a few steps to get you going in the right direction.

• Start simple. If you’re not exercising at all, anything you do at this point is going to be beneficial. Start with a really small goal, like five or 10 minutes of exercise per day. The point is to build the habit first, then expand.
• Don’t start with what you think you should do, start with what feels good to you. You don’t need to suffer to get results. Again, the point is to build the habit first, then add to it.
• If you find exercise mindless and boring, play music with an upbeat tempo. The average song is a little over three minutes. If you listen to three good songs, 10 minutes are gone before you know it!
• Invest in really good quality tennis shoes. If you wear uncomfortable shoes that do not fit properly, you can damage your feet and ankles. Clothing should be loose-fitting and appropriate for the activity and/or weather.
• As much as possible, exercise at the same time of day so it becomes a regular habit. However, it’s not the end of the world if you miss a workout, just try to work some activity into your day in another way.
• Keep your goals reasonable. If you’re not exercising now, it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to run a 5k in a month. For instance, if you’re walking 10 minutes per day, each week add 15 steps to your walk. Build up gradually.
• Choose activities that are fun and not exhausting, adding variety. Develop a routine of different activities that you enjoy and will keep you from becoming bored with the drudgery of routine.
• Start a log of your activities. Keep up with distances, time and how you feel after each workout. This will help you to see positive progress both physically and mentally and keep you motivated.

If you would like to incorporate simple aerobics into your routine, visit Michelle Spadafora’s website, www.faithfulworkouts.com. If you’re like me, I can trip over my own feet (and have!) and complicated routines and dance moves are not only a bad idea, I spend so much time trying to figure out the moves I don’t get the workout I should. Michelle’s workouts are about 25 minutes and combine very easy aerobic routines with muscle-toning exercises. She also demonstrates low-impact moves, so these workouts can be adapted for anyone at just about any physical level. Even if you can’t walk, you can sit on a chair and move your legs and arms. Michelle also has weekly menu plans with some great recipes. The workouts can also be found on the NRB Christian television channel.

If you would like to begin a walking/jogging/running plan, visit www.halhigdon.com/training/. He has great advice and training programs for everything from fitness walking to marathon running, with plans for the beginning novice up to advanced.

Remember, exercise not only is beneficial for you physically, it will make you feel better, sleep better, elevate your mood and, best of all, pleasing to the Creator who made you! So get walking, go on a bike ride, hike a trail. Whatever you do, find a fun way to exercise and take that first step to exercise success!

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