Tricking Yourself Into Fitness
I enjoy being fit, but I have never been the sort of person who enjoys getting fit. I hear lots of people talk about how much they love running or cycling or being at the gym, but I just can’t seem to get into it on that emotional level. I have been on a regular daily exercise regime since I was fourteen years old, even competing in running races from time to time, and never once have I discovered this “zone” of a natural high that so many runners have promised me exists. I only exercise because I like the results, and I want to stay healthy. If you’re like me and exercise out of necessity rather than joy, or even if you have trouble getting motivated to exercise at all, there are a few things you can do to incorporate extra movement into your normal everyday life, as a way of tricking your body into getting fit.
The most obvious thing you can do, which you’ve heard a million times before, is taking the stairs. Sigh. Yes, it’s a hassle at first, especially when the elevator is right there and it’s so easy to give in to laziness. But if you make the promise on Monday to take the stairs for just one week, by Friday it’ll no longer be a big deal, and you won’t have any problem continuing. In fact, I live on the ninth floor of my building, and I’ve gotten to the point now where I’ve completely forgotten we even have an elevator, even when I’m carrying groceries (which in itself is a great way to build upper body strength). It sounds ridiculous, but it does actually become second nature after a while. Give yourself a chance to prove it by doing a trial for a week or two. The first couple of days will be hard, but even after that short period, your fitness will already start to improve and the going will get much easier, thus making you more inclined to continue using the stairs.
Walk wherever and whenever you can. Get off the bus or train a few stops early, and walk the rest of the way. If your choices are a direct route or a more scenic route, go for the scenery. If you have a choice of roads, choose the one where you’ll have to walk up a hill. If you’re doing it because you’re on your way somewhere, then it won’t seem like exercise, it’ll just seem like you’re getting your commute out of the way. The more you get used to it, the more you’ll cherish having that small amount of time out in the fresh air, and you’ll probably want to start getting off the bus even sooner.
Cleaning house can be a great physical activity as well, and the side benefit is that a clean house can make you feel good about yourself. If you’re only in the habit of doing a full cleaning once a week (or, let’s be honest, even less frequently than that), change up your routine by setting aside 20 minutes every day for just one task. Really get into it: move the furniture and clean behind it; push the sofa and vacuum under it. Get a brisk pace going, and get things done as quickly and thoroughly as possible. If your vacuum cleaner has an adjustable easy-glide feature, turn it off. Even by just cleaning one particular area or doing one little job per day, your house will stay perpetually clean and your body perpetually worked out. You have to clean anyway, so you may as well kill two birds with one stone.
Fitness is not just about organized exercise classes or regular trips to the gym. There are many ways to get fit, and they’re available during your regular, everyday life. Finding small ways to build movement and physical effort into your day can make a huge difference in your overall fitness and strength levels. This in turn will make you more energetic, which will likely prompt you to want to do even more to help yourself down the road to a healthier body. You just need to start small, and work your way up.