Last year, I decided to go on a journey to the best health of my life. Looking back at 2016, I didn’t do a very good job. As a homeschooling mom of three kids six and under, plus trying to run a business on the side, I ignored my health a little too readily and a little too often. The problem is, while nothing bad happened this year, I know that I can’t continue on this downward spiral.
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I wasn’t nearly as active as I should or could have been last year, and that’s both ironic and sad, considering I’m a former personal trainer and Registered Kinesiologist (inactive)*. I know that I need to exercise more, and I need to put that knowledge into action. I’m hoping that I can inspire you with the action I’m going to be taking this year. My goal is to move every single day, and to accumulate 150 minutes of exercise each week, as recommended by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. And I’m doing it for my health, not for looks.
Unlike many New Year’s “resolutionists,” I’m not committing to exercise so I can lose weight. Firstly, I don’t make New year’s resolutions, as I believe they’re the most ineffective way to reach a goal. Secondly, as cheesy and cliché as it sounds, I really do believe that beauty is on the inside, and that it comes in all shapes and sizes. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds. But I’m more concerned about the arthritis pain the extra weight is causing than by the size of my pants.
Here’s why exercise should be your top priority this year, and it has nothing to do with fitting into any unrealistic ideal of beauty.
1. Exercise keeps you healthy & improves your quality of life
Exercise has been shown to aid in the prevention of several chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, and some cancers. Exercise also helps you to maintain your flexibility and stamina as you age, thereby improving your quality of life as you get older.
2. Exercise makes you feel good and can help with your mental health
Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormone. This “feel good” effect has even been shown to aid in the treatment of depression. Depending on how severely a person is affected by mental health issues, exercise and therapy alone may do the trick – which means you can avoid the side effects of medication.
3. Exercise forces you to have a social life
Too many of us give up a good part of our social life as we get older, have children, and get into the daily grind. This is wrong on so many levels. This is the time of our lives when we need social time the most. I am a very social person, and I went through some pretty horrible times when I bought into the “perfect mom who’s only interested in her kids” ideal.
Seriously, my kids will be OK if I take some time to hang out with friends. They have a wonderful dad who loves them and who can hang out with them while I take some time out. I finally embraced this fact, and joined a sport and social club. I specifically joined the “All sorts of sports and pub social” league, so that I can actually have some conversations (uninterrupted ones!) after our sports night.
Joining a sports club, a gym, or another group activity kills two birds with one stone: you get active, and you get to meet new friends and build up a social life. Sure, you can be active without joining anything and you can do it alone in your living room. But I encourage you to find a workout buddy, so that you enjoy some social time while getting active. It will also help you to stay accountable.
4. But I don’t have time to exercise!
This is a lie. It’s a lie I used far too often last year. You have time for everything you want and need to do. Trust me. It’s a matter of prioritizing. I didn’t exercise enough last year because I put my business and housework ahead of my health needs. This is simply wrong. Exercising—whichever type of exercise you choose—should be on your schedule like any other important appointment – because it is.
If you don’t have time to exercise, I invite you to start keeping honest track of your time. Even if every single minute of your day is filled with productive pursuits (which for most people is highly unlikely), you can still swap some of those pursuits to put your health first. For example: I’m becoming more OK with having a messy house, if it means I get to move my body and prevent a heart attack in the future. I’m choosing to purchase some ready-made curriculum instead of creating every single homeschooling lesson from scratch. I’m putting my health first.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore—I believe viewing it as a chore is why so many people avoid it. They have this idea that running for hours on end to get nowhere is how we exercise. But there are so many options out there. Look for something that excites you and that you can’t wait to do each day. Even if that something is putting some music on and dancing wildly around your living room, make a commitment to do it every day. All you need is to move your body and get your sweat on each day.
If you’re really stuck on where to start, there are some great bodyweight workouts that you can do anywhere listed on this site. Have a look and give them a try – and let me know what you think.
What is your plan for getting active in 2017?
*I’m still a Registered Kinesiologist; however, I am on inactive status to spend time with my family while my kids are young. The college requires us to use (inactive) when referring to our registration when we are not practicing.