There is ample scientific evidence that regular exercise dramatically reduces the risk of developing a large number of diseases. So why aren’t we all exercising? The most common reason I hear for failure to exercise is “not enough time.”
I respect and understand this – we all live busy lives. Yet we schedule things every day – meetings, dinner with friends, a baseball game, dentist or doctor appointments, hockey practices, ballet or karate classes for the kids, and so on. We all schedule things we want to accomplish because scheduling works. That’s why I offer you these two simple rules that will definitely help you incorporate exercise into your life and make it a permanent part: “Just book it” and “Just do it.”
Before I get into the meat, let me tell you something. The following tips are what I did to improve my health. However, you may need a more in-depth system. So, if this is your case, you should take a look at this review by Putnam Virtual Hospital.
“Just Book It”
I recommend that, every Sunday night, you book three or four exercise appointments for the next seven days of your life. Book your appointments for whenever they fit your schedule for that week. If Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday work for you, that’s okay. The most important thing is to get three or four sessions completed per week. Even if the times and days for exercise vary from week to week, promise yourself three or four workouts a week.
Use the same scheduling devices for your exercise that you currently use to schedule your other appointments – your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Gmail calendar alert, appointment book, calendar – whatever it takes to keep you on track.
One of my patients traveled to Russia on business for five days. He had already booked his workout time in the exercise room from 7:00 to 7:45 a.m., Monday to Thursday inclusive. To his dismay, the exercise room at his hotel was closed for renovations. So strong was his resolve to be true to his exercise program, however, that he immediately rebooked his appointments to a time that week when he would be home. He exercised faithfully on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. and from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. both days, times when his family was least likely to notice his absence.
This was not his ideal approach to exercise, but for that particular week he just did it, achieving his goal of always exercising four days a week for his health.
“Just Do It”
All the greatest plans and ambition to exercise fall short without this one simple rule: Just do it … never cancel.
When something is important to us, we keep our commitment to it even when we don’t feel like following through. You wouldn’t think of skipping a scheduled meeting with your boss or a colleague, even if you were knee-deep in work. The kids have to be picked up from lessons even when you feel like staying on the couch.
You keep a doctor’s appointment, or a promise to meet a friend to help with a problem, even when time to yourself might be more appealing.
I highly recommend that you give exercise the same priority and obligation level as the other important responsibilities in your life – even if you feel tired. Never cancel your exercise appointments.
Use Your Will Power
There’s a popular perception that staying committed to an exercise program requires great discipline. I don’t believe it does. All it requires is following two simple rules: Just book it and Just do it.
Would you say it takes discipline to stop at a red light and go when it turns green? We all respect traffic signals, which shows that following rules is quite different from summoning up discipline.
I suggest that you try exercising regularly for thirty days and see just how well it works.
There’s no doubt that it’s hard to place exercise as a top priority in an already crowded life, but think of it this way: without your health, everything could change. You might not be able to work or go to school or enjoy family and friends.
I believe it is truly worth the effort to exercise regularly and consistently, and to incorporate physical activity into daily life.
Once you truly believe that regular exercise is critical for your health, and commit to reducing your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and many other diseases, these tools will change your life forever. You’ll move forward toward what I call a culture of health and enjoy a sense of empowerment. You’ll be taking charge of your health and your future.
Exercise: Book It and Just Do It
• Every Sunday night, schedule three or four exercise appointments with yourself for the following week. Use any scheduling tool you normally use for all your appointments (Scheduling)
• Treat these appointments as mandatory, whether you feel like it or not when the time arrives (Priority scheduling)
• Get your family and friends involved for encouragement and mutual benefit (Exercise Buddy)
• Make exercise time fun. You want to look forward to exercise in order to diminish excuses (Linkage)
• Ideally, exercise four times per week, working up to forty-five minutes per session
• Default: four times a week for thirty minutes, three times a week for forty-five minutes, or three times a week for thirty minutes
• Double Up: You can do one hour of exercise on one day to equal two sessions out of the ideal of four sessions per week. You could also break it up into two half-hour sessions the same day; for example, do cardio on Saturday morning for thirty minutes and then again on Saturday afternoon for thirty minutes for two sessions in one day. If life gets busy and you find you can exercise only on the weekend, make sure you get in a minimum of three thirty-minute sessions.
While this is not ideal, at least you’ll have completed the minimum. In the example above, you would just need to do one thirty-minute exercise session on Sunday to accomplish your minimum of three thirty-minute sessions per week
• Always strive daily to do as much walking as you can to attain the goal of 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day