You’re Not Actually Working Out

Fitness is an essential component to wellness, and it requires action on your part. No amount of vitamins will replace the nutritious benefits of eating whole, healthy foods and no amount of walking on a treadmill will replace the invigorating health benefits of being active in the great outdoors. If you want to be well, then you must act well. That means getting out and enjoying your life.

When many people think about fitness, they think about workout gear, going to the gym, and eating salads. However, that is a very limited approach. Fitness should be a part of your daily routine, not something you have to schedule in. Think about your daily routine for a moment. How many opportunities do you have to do something good for yourself in any given day, and how many times do you choose to do otherwise?

It is important, when making changes in your life, that you not berate yourself for your old behaviors, but rather, praise yourself for your new habits. Let each awareness be an opportunity for you to create the desired shift in your life. Invite your friend to take a scenic walk with you instead of meeting at a coffee shop. Do an extra lap around the mall and park further away from the doors to turn your shopping trip into something more. Plan your vacations around hiking, biking, or other activities that get you outside. Even just doing yard work on the weekends is a great way to stay in shape- remember to stretch those muscles before you do anything strenuous!

These examples are what I call “activity” to achieve a certain level of fitness. They are not what I consider “working out” or “exercise.” That requires a much more strenuous effort, one which many people are afraid to attempt or don’t realize is actually necessary to make significant changes in body shape, size, and composition. Taking a hike or choosing stairs rather than an elevator are smart healthy choices that increase your activity level throughout a day. However, considering that as your “exercise” for the day, will end up leaving you disappointed and frustrated that you are not achieving your physical fitness/body weight/body image goals.

To get there, you need to play like a (healthy weight, metabolically normal) kid plays: high intensity, short explosive burst games like “tag” or pretty much any team sport that’s popular like baseball, soccer, basketball, and hockey. Suddenly, post high school, everyone stops doing explosive sprint work and switches to “let’s stay on a stair stepper or elliptical for 2 hours while watching the news.”

You want to balance your hormones, burn mega fat, build muscle, sleep well, and look toned? You need to add high intensity exercise such as weights, sprint work, HIIT, and even the “cult of CrossFit” into your life. (And, no, I am not a CrossFit member, but this is the principle behind many of their extreme success stories.)

The best part is, you can do most of it right at home once you know what you are doing, and a burst workout only takes 5-20 minutes for most people every other day to see far greater changes in your body than you will ever see by putting in longer hours on a treadmill.