First, though: pushups.
Do five of them. Do ten, if you can, or twenty if you’d prefer — no matter the count, try and keep good form throughout. If you’re not up to straight pushups just yet, feel free to work in wall pushups instead, and don’t be afraid to keep your knees on the ground either.
Come back to this when you’re done. (No worries! I can wait.)
Right. Let’s talk about exercise, then — what you just did, what you normally try to do, and how drawing a distinction between the two can make all the difference in your daily routine.
“Oh, I’ll hit the gym when my shift ends.”
“Well, I have about thirty minutes between classes…”
“Tuesday? Oh. Damn. I haven’t worked out in awhile.”
I could go on.
The idea, though, doesn’t need to be hammered thin: we view exercise in isolation.
We consider our workouts completely separate from the rest of our day, a brief period where we can sweat, sigh, and stretch before returning to our ‘normal’ routine. If you’re the dedicated and consistent type, I’d argue this isn’t necessarily a bad thing — so long as you’re diligent with your exercise, maintaining it without fail, then keeping workouts in their own little box won’t prove too problematic with your schedule.
Right. Let’s be honest for a second, shall we? Who here actually fits that description? (Not me!)
Stuff gets in the way. Life gets in the way. Your kids break something, your boss asks you to stay late at work, and a half-dozen catastrophes collaborate with the sole intention of stopping you from going to the gym. The end result? It’s not pretty. You feel terrible. You feel like you’re letting yourself down, like you’re packing on the pounds by the minute, and that hum-drum feeling sticks with you far longer than it should.
Stop this. Something as simple as a new perspective — a different approach — can offer tremendous relief from this never-ending disappointment. The best part? You can start now.
And speaking of which: squat time!
Do ten or fifteen (or as many as you can, honestly) good-form air squats. Go slow if you haven’t done them recently, and don’t stress in the least if you don’t do as many as you expect to be able to. Come back to this afterwards. Don’t rush!
Let’s establish a few things:
1. You want to exercise. You recognize, now, the many benefits a good workout can offer the body, and are oh-so tired of thinking “Oh, I should start doing that” whenever Dr. Whatever on TV is pushing thirty daily minutes of walking.
2. You feel like you don’t have enough time. The reason is irrelevant — you feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to spend it on exercise, and subsequently keep pushing it off until that mythical hour of free time comes skipping your direction.
That second point is worth another post entirely. In the interest of a simple fix, though, let’s tackle both points at once. Ready for this?
Stop exercising. Start moving.
Exercise, in the conventional sense, isn’t always practical for the modern man or woman. Exercise, as the glossy magazines like to break it down, is precisely this: an amazingly magical thing that will net you six pack abs or a better sex life(!), which sounds pretty damn fine and dandy until you remember that you have a report due by six tomorrow morning.
Moving, though? You’ve done it twice in the last few minutes (provided you didn’t skip the pushups and squats, spoilsport). You could do it right now, in fact. Why not do a few more pushups? If you have enough space, why not bust out a few yoga poses? If you’re slightly reckless like I am, why not try and do a handstand?
The point here is this: exercise is good. It’s not a substitute for a proper diet, but it has tremendous benefits for your muscularity and overall health, and as such should be a regular part of your routine. Exercise carries quite a bit of extra baggage, though, when you isolate it from the rest of your daily activity, when you split your day like this: work, work, exercise, work and then feel terrible when something prevents you from doing it.
Moving is also good. Moving is exercise on a smaller scale that you can repeat often throughout the day, often with little more than your bodyweight and the willingness to spend a few minutes cranking out the repetitions.
Don’t believe me? Try these:
1. The next time you shut the door in a bathroom stall, do air squats. Just don’t touch anything.
2. Slumped on the couch? Hop up and do some wall pushups if you don’t feel like dropping down to the carpet.
3. Stand. Standing instead of sitting is enough to engage every muscle in the body, so try and incorporate less butt-on-chair time into your routine.
4. Pace around your room. It’ll upset your cat, but rest assured it’s for a good cause.
5. Countdown on the microwave leave you with a few minutes to spare? Get inventive. Pushups, pull-ups, squats, dips, etc. — just do something.
You get the idea.
If you can manage it, why not get the best of both worlds? Exercise as normal in your daily workouts, but also make an effort to keep moving even when you’re back in the office. This is the ultimate goal, no doubt, and something well worth working towards once you’ve incorporated at least a little motion into your schedule.
Until then, though, don’t forget the big takeaway here: just do something. Your body is worth it. Your health and fitness demand it. Rather than let life get in the way and interrupt your scheduled workout, why not take matters into your own hands?
Hell, why not move?
It’s a simple change, I think, yet one with outstanding benefits for the fast-paced, productivity-obsessed modern world. When forces beyond your control steal you away from your time at the gym, don’t stress — just stand up, stretch, and bust out some squats. Repeat this every thirty minutes as necessary.
Simple as that, right?
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