Ladies, there’s no way to sugarcoat this – we need to be physically active every day. As much as I don’t want to say it, and you probably don’t want to hear it, we all need to move our bodies for at least 30 minutes every day (or almost every day).* Notice I didn’t say “exercise every day,” because that brings up images of jogging or dragging your tired self to the gym. If you enjoy jogging or going to the gym, wonderful – those are great ways to move your body. But if you don’t, or you can’t imagine finding the time to jog or hit the gym, you have plenty of other options.
(Check out the other 5 keys to living a calmer, healthier and sexier life.)
Why Physical Activity (or Exercise)?
But before we talk about the “how,” let’s talk for a minute about the “why.” Regular physical activity (or exercise) is simply one of the best things you can do for your body, mind and spirit. It improves your health – reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer. It reduces stress. It helps you control your weight. It tones your muscles and keeps your joints limber. It energizes you. I can’t say it strongly enough – moving your for at least 30 minutes a day, five or six days a week, is simply one of the best things you can do for yourself, your marriage and your family.
How in the World Can I Find the Time for Physical Activity?
How does a busy woman, with a husband, family, home, job, and myriad other responsibilities, find time for physical activity? It’s not easy, but it’s possible. If you can’t see how to make it happen, try these strategies for getting started:
- First, make it a priority. Decide that you need and deserve a strong, healthy body and acknowledge that a strong, healthy body requires regular physical activity.
- Second, pick one or two activities you enjoy and can probably fit into your busy schedule. Walking, biking, swimming, hiking, exercise DVDs, dancing with your husband, playing soccer with your kids – anything you enjoy and are reasonably likely to do.
- Third, figure out ways to sneak at least 30 minutes of one of those activities into your day. Think you don’t have time? Make time. Walk for 15 minutes at lunch and 15 minutes in the evening. Take your children to the park – but don’t sit on the bench, keep moving. Walk around the soccer field while they’re at practice. Walk while they’re at dance class or music lessons. (I’ve spent many an afternoon walking around the block while my son was at basketball practice. I’m sure people thought I was crazy!) Use any exercise equipment you have in your house. My husband and I have a treadmill in our bedroom. It’s ugly and it’s in the way (we can barely open our dresser drawers), but we use it almost every day. Fit in quick exercises here and there. Change the way you do things so that moving, rather than sitting or standing, is your “default setting.”
- Fourth, make a one-month commitment. Decide you’re going to do this and get started. Commit to one month of making physical activity a priority, at least 5 days a week. By the end of the month I predict it will have become a habit you enjoy, rather than something you dread. For me, being physically active every day has become part of my routine. I rarely miss a day, and most days I don’t find it difficult to find time to walk or do some other form of exercise. (Of course, some days are complete disasters and it just doesn’t happen.)
Is it possible? Can you make regular physical activity a part of your life? What have you done that’s helped you to be more active? I would love to hear about your successes and challenges.
*The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/summary.asp) recommend that adults participate in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week and note that activity above that level provides additional health benefits. People with chronic health conditions or symptoms should consult their healthcare provider about safe ways for them to be physically active.
Updated April 2015.