I just read something great about exercise:

A national-class runner was giving advice about staying on an exercise program. “I struggle with motivation all the time. It sounds ridiculous, but if you’re running down a slight hill or even just a little tired, put your arms out like you’re an airplane, and suddenly everything becomes less serious.”

Weird. But I am absolutely going to try this! It would certainly add some joy and fun.

Because the most successful way to a long-term exercise program is to make it fun!

Autonomic Nervous System Chart
Autonomic Nervous System Chart

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Think of exercise as recess before or after a long work day, not another “to-do” item.

Most people say they want to exercise for their health, but they actually do it because they are doing something they enjoy.

Think of exercise as an essential part of all your jobs. It will improve you as a parent, business person, writer, artist, lawyer, doctor, or educator. It will help you to be calm, collected and improve your energy and stamina on all your jobs.

Exercise is moving your body. You don’t have to sweat, gasp for breath or tremble beneath massive weights. Walking is probably the best and most-used form of exercise (motion). Whatever you do (bike, swim, yoga, Pilates, phone app), you don’t have to struggle or suffer to benefit. Just do it! (I’ve heard this one before somewhere…)

Be flexible. If you properly prioritize your exercise, you can decide to do it when you like and not have to slavishly go at the same time in your schedule. A study showed that people with flexible schedules did better at staying with an exercise program than ridged schedule people.

Add in something you enjoy: listen to a great audiobook but only when you’re exercising. OR: Become a photographer and discover and take pictures during your walk or run.

Get support! A group holds you accountable and gives you people to share your wins with. Having a workout buddy does the same thing. The look in your dog’s eyes when you haven’t been on your walk or run is plenty to get you motivated.

Create an exercise environment that is inviting. Find or create a place where you feel good exercising. I’ve done this with my yoga room. Others find a nice gym, a beautiful park or just your bedroom with a mat and a fitness app. My husband loves hiking in the woods and solved his motivation problem by regularly visiting the Chattahoochee recreation area near our home.

If you fall off your program, get back on track right away. The key, according to the study, is not to miss two workouts in a row. Set up a deal with yourself to handle a missed session in advance: If you miss, but just once, you get a special reward after your next session.

Here’s your program; get started today!

  1. On paper, list every form of motion you can think of that is possible for you to do (walk, run, swim, yoga, bike, etc.).
  2. For each one, answer this question: “Could I make this activity fun to do?”
  3. For each “yes” answer, work out how this could be done. Now convert this activity to something you could do regularly.
  4. Get on it!
  5. (Optional) If you get to the bottom of your list without any of the activities being fun, re-read how exercise is an important part of all your jobs. Then go for a walk and put your arms out like an airplane. Then come back in and do the list again.

Have fun!