Nearly every article I read for school highlights what I have long believed to be true – body and mind are intrinsically linked. One’s mental health affects his/her physical health and vice versa. In fact, recent research, at a global level, highlights how mental health influences chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and many types of cancer.
Modern society has created a species that spends almost every waking hour sedentary. We go from sitting in a car (or other form of transit) to sitting at a desk to sitting on the couch, from staring at one screen to the next (sometimes two concurrently, i.e. phone/laptop and TV).
But biomechanically, we evolved to move. Even just 10 minutes of exercise can release endorphins, the neurochemical that is structurally similar to morphine and thus acts as both an analgesic (pain reliever) and “feel good” drug.
But how do we fit it in? With deadlines, drop-offs/pick-ups, and lunches to pack, fitting in a workout can easily slide to the bottom of the priority list.
Firstly, you have to schedule it. If you have no plan, no scheduled time in your day, your gym bag will continue to float around your car or office, and you will continue to promise yourself that you will start “tomorrow.” We are deadline driven and let our calendars and phones dictate our day. Put your workout in your calendar and consider it an important meeting you cannot miss. I remember a fitness trainer in NYC during one of my lunch time workouts shouting: “come ON! Give me more than that, that’s why you’re here! This is probably the only good thing you are doing for yourself, just for YOU, all day!!”. She was not wrong.
Secondly, find something you like to do. You may not love it (especially at first, I hated running for about 4 months-I actually dreaded it every day), but find something you like. Find cycling classes mind-numbingly boring? Don’t go. Hate running? Try something else that you find more enjoyable. It’s hard enough to develop a new habit. Make it easy on yourself by finding something you enjoy. Maybe it’s walking around your local high school track and listening to podcasts. Awesome. Just do it.
Thirdly, find the time of day you will go. Who cares if the super fit woman in your office gets up at 5am to workout every day? If that sounds awful to you, but you know you would be able to go during your lunch break or love an evening sweat sesh, go then. My optimal workout time has changed with every new job and life chapter. I know that I will not go after work, though, if someone asks me to grab a drink or meet for dinner, so, with trial and error, I am an early morning or lunch-time exerciser.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Start with 10-30 minutes 3-4 times a week. Remember that you will go through an adjustment phase. You may find yourself more tired and hungrier. The first two weeks will be the most challenging. Then weeks 3-6 you will likely still notice the challenge of adding a new routine, but then it will be just that, routine.
If something stands between you and your success, move it.
Never be denied
~ Dwayne Johnson
Run on, my friends.