If you’d rather scrub the bottom of your kitchen trash can than exercise, you’re not alone. For millions of people, doing things like jogging, lifting weights or taking a workout class has no appeal at all. So what can you do to get exercise and fitness in daily? It comes down to a simple mind trick. Put aside the concept of exercise as a deliberate, regimented activity that takes place in a gym and requires special clothes, and focus on moving more in ways that are either fun or effective. Here are some of my favorite strategies for inspiring anyone to get moving and learn to like, or even love, being active.
by Mike Levinson
1. Wear clothes with give. On days when you don’t have to dress for work, put on sneakers and sweats or yoga pants first thing in the morning. This simple habit can make a huge difference in how often you move.
2. This one’s for those who have ever eyeballed a trampoline, slide or scooter and considered giving it a whirl. Whether you’re at the playground or in your backyard, follow through on the urge to play when it hits you. Pick up a jump rope and hop for five minutes.
3. Park farther away. Next time you pull into a busy parking lot, save yourself the time and hassle of driving around in circles looking for a spot near the door. Instead, take the first one you see on the edge of the lot. Yes, it’ll be a longer walk to get to the store, but that walk will do your body good, and you’ll still arrive sooner than if you hunted around for a prime parking place.
4. Stand up hands-free Getting up from a chair is something most of us do countless times a day. From now on, get up without using your hands. Instead, stick your arms out straight in front of you at shoulder height and squeeze your glutes and abs as you rise from sitting to standing. It may seem like nothing, but these body areas will get a little workout every time.
5. Blast your favorite upbeat music. Cue up a playlist you love, and chances are that at least one part of your body will start tapping, twisting or bopping. And if you happen to be in a good mood, your movements will start to resemble dancing—a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.
6. Make dishwashing more productive. One of the most blissfully mindless ways to move is to bang out old-fashioned leg lifts while you do the dishes or brush your teeth. Standing at the sink, kick one leg out to the side and, squeezing your glutes, hold it for 30 seconds. Then switch and do the other side for 30 seconds. Continue this pendulum-like motion until the dishes are done, and you’ll have toned your backside with minimal effort.
7. Skip slow, crowded escalators. You’ll actually be happier (and healthier!) if you get in the habit of taking at least one flight of stairs.
8. Buy this one gadget–pedometer. Seeing the number of steps you take each day is surprisingly satisfying. At first, you may merely glance at the screen before going to bed. But before you know it, you might find yourself wanting to beat yesterday’s tally or hit a specific number.
9. Socialize on the move. When you’re doing something active with a friend or group, it feels like socializing, not exercising. Head out on a hike, organize a game of kickball or Frisbee golf, plan an outing to an old-school roller rink or just meet for a walk in the park.
10. Be a tourist in your own town. Anyone who has trekked from one landmark to another on vacation knows what it’s like to wake up the next day shocked by how sore your legs are. That’s because it’s easy to go for miles when your mind is occupied with sightseeing.
11. Just do ten. Many non-exercisers fall into the trap of thinking that there’s no point in moving unless they’re going to run for an hour or bust out 50 crunches. Truth is, starting with smaller, more manageable goals is the best way to fall into the fitness habit. Anytime you have a few minutes to kill, just do 10 jumping jacks or 10 sit-ups or 10 leg lifts. Who knows—10 might begin feeling so easy, you’ll want to do more.
12. Walk for a good cause. Maybe what you need is a reason to work out that goes beyond your own health. Signing up for a charity walk motivates you on a deeper level.
Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.