We just finished a process where we had people fill out a survey for our new PEERtrainer Spotlight. The first question we asked people was simply "where are you in your journey to become a more active person?" We got over 500 completed applications, which gave us a very detailed view of where a lot of you are.
The main thing I am seeing is that a lot of people are having a very hard time sustaining any sort of consistent exercise. And I am also seeing a lot of people who are burning themselves out, which often leads to long periods of inactivity. And I have a somewhat controversial suggestion that I think will help both groups.Key Concept
If you are having a hard time starting to exercise or keeping up with it, it may be that your vision of "what exercise should be" is based on what you see in the media. All over the place we see people going all out, cardio to the max, burning it up etc. The drill sargeant making the person who lacks the motivation cry and then "break through."The Problem With This Approach
A simple analogy will help to explain how crazy this approach is for the average person. Most first graders do not read Shakespeare. When you learn to read you start with the basics and then build up over time. It is the same thing with a baby learning to walk. Gradually the body grows, gets stronger and more coordinated.
But with exercise everyone seems to be trying to short circuit this process. I see this all over the place. Whether it is someone with a lot of weight to lose or it is someone who is in decent shape who starts training for long distance running, if you go "all in and all out" you are going to get frustrated or you are going to get hurt.If You Are In These Categories Here Is What I Want You To Do:
1. The very first thing I want you to do is give yourself a major break and radically shift your notion of "what proper exercise is." Many people have very limited time, energy and even mobility but are looking to do something. If this describes you, a very helpful thing to do is start to view your everyday movement as exercise.
Simply become aware of how much you are already moving. You obviously want to become stronger over time and build your endurance. This is critical as you get older, you need strong muscles and bones. But I know that so many of you have become sedentary for whatever reason.
2. The second thing that I would like you to do is find a way to develop an exercise strategy that is a complete fit with your life. Not how you want your life to be, but how it actually is. If you only have two minutes on your way to the bathroom, garage, home office, kitchen or whatever, develop some sort of system (or game!) where you can get some sort of activity in every single time.
Automatically Trigger Daily Action!
People often talk about having a "home gym", but the ideal is to turn your whole house into a "challenge course" where there is always something that triggers activity as a result of visual stimulation. Meaning you see it, and then do it. It is like food. If you see it in front of you, you will eat it. The great thing about exercise is that you can take that phenomenon and make it work for you!
Two Proven Products For Your Home That Can Trigger Daily Action:
There are two things in our own home that help trigger easy and consistent action. The first is the Total Gym, something you have seen on TV for years. Something that you may not know is that the company also makes high end versions of this product for physical therapy and rehab centers. The reason for this is that the Total Gym can be very easy and gentle to use. Especially on the lower settings. It engages the body really well, and is just easy and enjoyable to do. For people who have joint pain and don't want to go out and run, the Total Gym can help you get a full body workout in way that goes easy on the joints.
Something like a Total Gym will work if you have it in a place in your home where you are going to see it every day. It is the kind of thing that you can get on for even a few minutes and activate your body. You can also get a much more intense workout on the Total Gym as well. The company has been around for 30 years, so this is a really proven thing. The company often features special deals on their website, and from time to time sells pre-owned versions on their website:Total Gym Website
The second thing you want to look at are Bodylastics Resistance bands. Resistance bands are cheap and can fit anywhere. But Bodylastics took the concept and built a unique clip and handle system that turned a simple set of bands into something that can mimic any exercise that you would get in the gym.
The best thing about these bands is that you can set up a couple pairs and leave them anywhere in your house. For example, you can take two bands and attach them to handles and leave them on the floor of your closet. When you wake up on your way to the shower you can do a set of curls or squats or flys in just a couple minutes. If you are looking to build muscle strength, this is an instant access exercise. If you are one of those people who "have not exercised in years" this is something that will instantly end that, just by having them in your bedroom, living room, office. Wherever. It is an excuse killer.
Bodylastics has been around for 12 years. The system is versatile, and allows you to use very low or very intense levels of resistance. If you go to their website you can see how the product works. And maybe if you already have a set, this article will help to remind you to put them in a place where you see them to get that visual trigger. Make it work for you.Bodylastics Website
In the current PEERtrainer Spotlight we are testing a new product, the Philips DirectLife system. With this system you wear a small activity monitor which records your movement. The monitor is then connected to a website account where live coaches keep tabs on people and offer suggestions. We are intrigued about this concept and product, because it teaches you exactly how to create an exercise program built around your own life.
This very much fits with our overall philosophy of exercise, where you gradually build your fitness level based on what you are already doing. This is a critical concept because once you have this mindset or awareness you no longer think of yourself as someone who has "fallen off track", or who "used to workout", or who "doesn't have the time".Those of you who left those comments, my objective here is to permanently change your mindset, and the way you think about activity. We are all going to get stronger and feel great!