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Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:12

Movement by Gypsy

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When you think of the word “exercise,” what comes to mind? Is it dragging yourself to the gym a certain number of times a week to do the recommended cardio and weight workout? Well, no wonder it is so hard to fit exercise into our lives. When it becomes an obligation instead of a want, the chances of us doing it are reduced. It is important to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to exercise. How about this image instead...

You are riding on your cruiser bike whose name is Gypsy. She has red spokes, tassels on her handlebars, painted flowers on the fenders, and a very cute basket. When you ride her, you feel like a kid again. You ride around the neighborhood streets and parks, appreciating the beauty of nature, kids playing, and people out walking their dogs. In no time, you realize that 30 minutes has flown by.


Aren’t you more likely to have success incorporating the second scenario into your life than the first? Here are a few ideas to get more movement in your day.

  • Change your framework. A standard theme I have found with my clients is the guilt that comes with the “should” of exercising. Leave behind the “should” and find your “want.” Think of “exercise” as movement that brings you joy, not as an obligation that hangs over your head. Even traditional types of exercise like hiking, biking, running, swimming, kayaking, dancing, skiing, and tennis can be incorporated into your daily life if you focus more on the fun and less on the result. After training for marathons for a few years straight, running started to feel more like an obligation to me. I decided to leave the heart rate monitor, distance watch, and speed expectations at home. As a result, I found joy in my running again.
  • Think outside the box. My dad is one of those people who won’t make his way to the gym, but he does like to walk his neighborhood. He lives in the desert, so in the summer it’s too hot to walk outside. He gets creative. He walks inside the air-conditioned mall. I had never heard of such a thing, but he says there are many other “mall walkers” (a term I see readily comes up on Google). Mall walking certainly has its benefits. You are in a climate-controlled environment with easy access to bathrooms. You can even get some errands done at the same time. If it’s not mall walking, maybe it’s hula hooping? It’s a great abdominal workout and it’s fun too. Jumping rope is good cardio and reminds us of our childhood days. How about a game of hopscotch, Frisbee, or basketball with the kids? Or turning on the stereo and dancing around to your favorite tunes? The point is, be creative. If it gets you moving, it counts as exercise.
  • Think inside the box. Some people like the gym. If you are one of them, that’s great. You don’t need to be creative like the rest of us to get exercise into our lives. Keep it up! My stepmom loves watching TV while on the elliptical at the gym. She has been known to stay on the machine for two hours because she’s hooked on a show she’s watching. For those of us who need a little nudge to get to the gym, think about how to make it more enticing. Can you go at a certain time to watch a show you like? Download some new tunes that are reserved just for your gym workouts? Meet a friend? Try a new class?
  • Talk and walk. Instead of meeting your friends for coffee or lunch, meet them for a walk. You save money and you get some exercise. You’ll spend so much time gabbing, you’ll forget your legs are doing a lot of walking.
  • Do it with a group. It is easier to cancel out on yourself than someone else. Also, having support from others can get you through on the challenging days, and even make it fun. Sign up for a tennis class, join a hiking group, or participate in one of the many charity organizations that walk and run various distance races. Even gym classes these days are becoming more fun with offerings that range from belly dancing to boxing.
  • Count your steps. Wearing a pedometer can make walking fun and motivating. Set a goal of at least 7,000 steps a day. Make it a family activity and see who can get the most steps in a week. Walking is a great way to stay healthy. Be prepared by keeping comfortable shoes in your car so that you can go for a walk any time you find yourself with a free moment.
  • Keep moving. Try to make movement part of your daily life rather than something you do at a certain time of day that counts as “exercise.” For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park in a far spot at the grocery store, or do your own gardening. At work, deliver something in person rather than using interoffice mail or walk to a different floor to use the bathroom. In your house, try walking around when you are on the phone or stretching while watching television. Even cleaning your house counts as movement.
Doesn’t this sound like a lot more fun than worrying about the number of calories burned or feeling obligated to get to the gym? Getting movement in your life is great for your health, in both the short-term and long-term. In the short-term, it will increase your mood by releasing endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, and help you sleep better. In the long-term, it will help to improve the quantity and quality of your life.

I love my time on Gypsy and look forward to getting out for a ride every chance I get. What's your Gypsy?

_________

Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


My bike, Gypsy

 

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