THE FITNESS PRIORITY BY KRISTIN MCNEALUS, PT, DPT
Write down your goals to keep you focused on why you are exercising. Are you trying to stay healthy for your children? Are you trying to cut down on medications you have to take?
We all know that exercise has many benefits for us, both physically and psychologically. It can keep our bodies and our minds healthy, and yet most people do not get enough exercise. Why is this?
The #1 excuse is limited time. We are so busy that we feel like it is difficult to make time for a workout. I am sure that you have heard that if you do not make time to stay healthy now, you will not have the choice to spend time on your ailments later. Making time to work out for 30 minutes six days out of the week is less than 2% of your time! Doesn’t that put it into a bit of perspective? 30 minutes is not much time! The American Heart Association does recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but they also say that if you can only work out for 10 minutes at a time and do that three times per day, you will get the same cumulative benefits. If you only have 10 minutes, that is better than nothing! Get moving! And try to fit another bout in later in the day when you have another 10 minutes.
You are also more likely to stick to a workout schedule if it is put into your calendar. Just like you put dentist appointments, or PTA meetings on the agenda as booked time, putting your workouts on the same level of importance into your schedule will help make that time a priority.
People often ask when the best time is to exercise. And the answer is: whenever you will do it! If you are more likely to work out in the morning because the day just gets away from you, and you are likely to erase it from you evening plan, then working out in the morning is best for you. If you are more likely to hit snooze through your scheduled morning workout time, then planning to exercise later in the day is probably best for you.
Another big excuse is fatigue. When we are tired, the last thing we feel like doing is working out. But exercise gives you energy! By increasing the blood flow and oxygen to the brain, you will feel more alert. Neurotransmitters will be released, and you will feel more awake. Use the 10 minute rule again; even if you are feeling exhausted, try to exercise for 10 minutes. If you still feel too tired, at least you gave it a shot, and 10 minutes is better than no exercise. Also, exercise helps us get deeper sleep; hopefully even that short bout of exercise will help you sleep better so that you are not as tired tomorrow and you can get your full workout. Likely, once you start working out, you will feel less tired, and able to finish the 30 minutes.
Some people are motivated by other people’s encouragement. If you like this, maybe finding local workout classes would be helpful. Exercise with other people who are focused on a similar goal, and can keep you on track by making sure you get to class (even on those days you don’t really want to!) If you do not enjoy working out with other people, or you have difficulty getting to exercise classes, consider sharing your goal and progress on social media. Every Body Fitness allows people to share their workout on Facebook; it is for people who may not like to exercise with others but still like friends and family to know they are working towards a goal, and they can cheer you on.
Some people are motivated by awards. There are a number of wearable tech options to track steps or minutes of exercise, however these generally do not work well for many people who have mobility limitations. There are some options in the works for people who use wheelchairs, but they are still being finalized. Every Body Fitness has added a dashboard that provides the same visual feedback without a wearable device! You can enter the number of minutes that you spent working out that day, and this is not tied to our videos, so you can enter any time you spend swimming, dancing, cycling, etc.! You can see a graph of your entries, and you earn points for every workout. There is even a built-in allotment of bonus points if you exercise more than 20 days in a month – to motivate you to work out five days per week! You can even trade those points in for prizes! If this is something that may keep you motivated, check it out.
Write down your goals to keep you focused on why you are exercising. Are you trying to stay healthy for your children? Are you trying to cut down on medications you have to take? Are you trying to lose weight? Write down any and all of your goals, and then be sure to write down any progress you are making toward those goals! Having your physician lower your blood pressure medicine dosage would certainly be just as worthy of bragging about as losing pounds. Also, keep track of things that get easier for you to do – maybe you can blow dry your hair without your arms getting tired, or it is easier to get out of bed. Write it down and celebrate it! •
THE FITNESS PRIORITY
Kristin McNealus, PT, DPT, ATP received her Masters in Physical Therapy from Boston University then went on to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from MGH Institute of Health Professions. She has been a staff physical therapist on inpatient rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries at a number of hospitals in Southern California, as well as Director of a community adaptive gym for people with neurological injuries. She is a member of the International Network Spinal Cord Injury Physiotherapists, and has contributed to the APTA Guidelines for Exercising with a SCI. She has completed 3 marathons, and 25 triathlons, including the Ironman! SCI Total Fitness is designed to promote health and wellness for people with physical disabilities.
HALF-HOUR POWER: The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but they also say that if you can only work out for 10 minutes at a time and do that three times per day, you will get the same cumulative benefits.