How to Get Exercise Into Your Life

How to Get Exercise Into Your Life
Men and women strolling in the country along a tree lined path
Strolling along a tree-lined path in the country c. 1893 via State Library of Victoria

I have been thinking a lot about exercise recently.  I have acknowledged in my last few progress reports that I need to move more, but I haven’t actually done anything about it.  Shame on me.

It’s strange how easy it was to make myself walk out of my office at lunch time and on down the street when I was working for someone else.  Admittedly I worked in the City, and there were shops to look in, and I had money to spend…  But I could take myself down to the Carlton or Fitzroy Gardens for a turn around in the fresh air before trotting back to the office.  I am now working practically next door to a park, so I don’t know why it is so hard to make myself leave the building.

It’s not as if my current boss (me) is a tyrant that won’t let me leave my desk, (though she does check my time sheets and make notes in her stupid notebook).  I have full no-holds-barred access to the internet and social media, but I don’t generally access them during the day as some of my workplace colleagues used to.  I generally eat lunch when I get hungry, watch a tiny bit of TV (sometimes have a nap) in my lunch room (lounge) and then get back to it.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t mind if I took the odd stroll to clear my mind.

Perhaps it’s more about the structure of my day.  I am generally really keen to get to work in the morning.  I don’t have to get showered and changed and commute, I just make more coffee, take a few steps and I’m at work ready to go.

I’ve checked with others who work from home and they have some interesting techniques for getting exercise into their days:

  • do it first thing before anything else
  • set the alarm for a time, and no matter what just get out there and get moving
  • when they hit a road block and can’t concentrate or focus
  • doing vigorous housework (two for one!)
  • use it for professional development by listening to a podcast while walking (another two for one)

All good and laudable ideas, but for me, the problem is getting started.

Mike Goncalves suggests that for small business people (like me) exercise is crucial because it makes us energetic, creative and productive.  He offers a process for getting exercise into our daily routines:

  1. identify exercise options
  2. develop a daily schedule (he suggests first thing)
  3. build it into the day (instead of coffee meetings have walking meetings)
  4. work from a place you can be active (e.g. the beach not a coffee shop)
  5. join gyms that offer discounts for odd hours such as midday or midweek
  6. keep it simple

He argues that the motivation to keep going is a choice.  He doesn’t actually quote Yoda, but he says you either choose to be motivated or not motivated.  And of course that nothing changes unless you get motivated by:

  1. focussing on the benefit for you (he gets to feel good and have energy)
  2. just getting up (once you’re up you’ve made the first move and you might as well keep going)
  3. taking inspiration (listening/watching something that gets you fired up)
  4. doing something (give yourself permission to make it a quick/short exercise, but do something
  5. rewarding yourself with something that makes the effort worthwhile (he takes wine and cheese – sounds good to me – I’ve got a nice stilton in the fridge)

Keeping it simple allows you to get into a groove, and that makes it easier to exercise consistently.  You can do that when you:

  1. tell yourself you want to exercise, not that you have to
  2. know why you are exercising (your benefit)
  3. have an exercise plan that works with your schedule
  4. make it a priority
  5. do something

And failing that, burn calories in other ways

  1. do not exercising type of exercises like sex, parking further away, taking the stairs, taking a power walk and standing instead of sitting
  2. boost your metabolism by taking cold showers, eating breakfast and drinking tea and coffee to increase metabolism

If you are stuck on finding benefits for exercise, Anna Ayrapetyan suggests you consider these benefits of walking: stress reduction, improved critical thinking, dementia prevention (or minimisation), emotional balance and a tight arse (I mean that in a good way – tight buns as my American friends would say).  As well as that, it’s free, doesn’t require a particular location or equipment, and in terms of all the available exercise options it’s not very stressful for your body while you build up fitness and stamina.

I expect you are thinking I’m going to say that I’m in, and I’m now off for a walk…  But it is cold, wet and rainy. And we’ve got the latest flu epidemic brewing in the house. I’m making spicy onion soup for two, with Gruyère toasties instead.

Do you have a place in your day for exercise?  Are you get it over with first thing in the morning?  Lunchtime stroll?  Pound the pavements at night?


  1. kalyanamitta4 says:

    Alex, this is really a topic worthwhile consideration.
    I have experienced both: Moving from couch potatoe to jogger and loving it and back to couch potatoe.
    My way from couch potatoe to jogger: It started with an Internet Group about weight reduction. The Trainer asked me what I was able to do as an exercise. I answered: Maybe take a stroll.

    And I took a stroll every other day. When I put on my shoes I promised myself that I could return home if it still felt as awful as right now reaching the next Corner (3 min. walk). It turned out I never returned home.
    In the beginning the elderly people from the old people’s home nearby passed me with ease on the slight slope upward. But slowly I was gaining momentum and could keep up and finally walk faster than they did.
    I started longing for my walk because moving in nature felt fantastic.

    After a while I walked 3 x 5 km per week and started jogging a few steps. After I reached 2,5 km jogging unfortunately I tore my crucial ligament in an accident (not jogging).
    After that I returned to walking.

    When I moved into a big noisy city with no nature around my walking whithered away. I hated walking between cars and even the large river closeby is actually used for loading and unloading large ships with containers and very loud as well.
    But I have to start again.

    What is left is that I still enjoy walking in nature a lot and if I am in nature it is the best thing I can do.

    • Alexandria says:

      Thanks for your thoughts kalyanamitta4, I appreciate you pointing out that it all starts with putting your shoes on and walking out the door. A little bit at a time, and a little bit of nature. I am privileged to live in nature, and should enjoy it more.

  2. Great post Alexandria! And good for you for acknowledging that you want to move more, even if you haven’t actually done anything about it – yet! I know you will 🙂 It’s all about just getting started, as small of a step as it may be. I always like to refer to one of Newton’s Law of Motion which states, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest while objects in motion tend to stay in motion.” Once we get started, once we’re in motion, not only will momentum help keep us in motion, but our motion also begins to positively affect our emotion (how we feel – more energy, more confidence, more happiness) which then provides us with even greater momentum to stay in motion, to keep going. It all begins with that first step. Cheers to you and thanks again for this great post 🙂 Cheers!

    • Alexandria says:

      Thanks for dropping by Mike. We could also say a rolling stone gathers no moss, which is also a good way to describe my sense of inertia. When I get to the mailbox I should just keep going.

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