Not so long ago, movement was built into daily life by sheer necessity. People walked because the car wasn’t an option. They got their food from gardens they planted themselves and drew water up from a well. Without modern distractions like television and computers, kids spent long days outside running and swimming and playing active games. Who wants to be cooped up inside with nothing to do? Well obviously, things have changed and daily movement has become something much more intentional. And not always easy to accomplish!
The secret to success, for me, has always been simply moving more than zero every single day. It doesn’t have to be a lot and it’s not about forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy! Personally, I love to swim, bike and run with friends. I’ve been doing these things since I was a kid and I still enjoy them just as much! The important thing is to find an activity you can love and then to do it, every day, just enough, remembering that the main goal isn’t winning a race or losing a pants size but simply to move. To do more than zero.
Frankly, I don’t know a whole lot of people who really feel inspired by running on a treadmill or lifting weights up and down. I think exercise should be social and fun. If you are not having fun, keep searching until you find that activity that does make you happy. You can get an amazing workout on a paddle board, or volunteering to help build a trail, or helping a school put in a garden.
Of course you can expect lots of days when you just don’t feel motivated to move. I have them too! Then I have to ask myself if there is a real underlying cause (like a small injury or a signal that I’ve pushed too hard the day before) or if I’m just being lazy. I often can’t answer this question until I start to move. So I start, knowing full well that I don’t have to complete the workout exactly as planned. I don’t have to run 6 miles if walking 3 feels like enough, or chase my friends on the bike if a yoga class feels like a better idea. I do, however, have to do more than nothing. So I strap my running shoes on, and I start moving. Nine times out of ten I start to perk up once I get going and I’m able to complete my workout as planned.
My clients ask me all the time how I stick to my fitness disciplines. Like them, I have a family, a full time job, a house to care for. And I also have 5 a.m. mornings, endless miles on my bike, worn out running shoes (and a worn out dog for that matter!) They think I have some secret knowledge or special gear that keeps me motivated, strong and healthy. The truth is, there is no secret formula. There is simply moving your body – more than zero – every day.
Here are some suggestions for ways you can move your body in a way that is more enjoyable.
- Participate in a BIKE Charlotte. BIKE Charlotte is seventeen days of bicycle related events to help families and friends break out the bike and use it as a means of transportation and recreation. (A one of my favorite events is the Taste and Cycle ride visiting downtown eateries). http://www.bikecharlotte.org
- One day a week, try living without a car. Plan the errands you can do without your car and walk, bike, or take public transportation.
- Join a local outdoor group such as the Audubon Society or Sierra Club and attend their events. You’ll meet other people, you’ll breath fresh air, and you’ll move your body.
- Volunteer at your local animal shelter. The Walk to Adopt program allows trained volunteers to take one of the dogs from a shelter for a walk in an approved city park. Find out more at: http://www.humanesocietyofcharlotte.org
- Build a house. Habitat Charlotte and Our Towns Habitat for Humanity welcome everyone, even those with no construction experience. There are jobs for people of every physical ability. http://www.habitatcharlotte.org and http://www.ourtownshabitat.org.
- Help build mountain bike trails. The Tarheel Trailblazers are a local mountain bike club who work to protect, improve and maintain the numerous trial systems in and around Charlotte. Find out more at: http://www.tarheeltrailblazers.com