I don’t really like “exercise.” I mean I like making myself stronger, and I love the full-day infusion of energy that comes from moving my body with force and verve. But exercise seems like a dirty word. It feels like a chore, something to be endured, hard physical labor. And anyone who knows me knows that that is just not my thing. (I do work hard, mind you, but just not with my muscles.)
But I also don’t like feeling winded when I walk up a hill or having to ask my husband to open that pickle jar. So I’ve come up a few hacks to keep things moving and strong.
Play with your kids (or pets) — This one is kind of obvious. Those little beings have boundless energy, and I feel like I spend half of my time trying to manage it and tamp it down. What if, instead, I shooed them outside and then followed? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve tried it, and I never seem to regret it. Whether we play a pathetic game of badminton, kick a soccer ball around, or hit the trails (by foot, bike, or ski), we have a good time. And, family bonding. Win-win.
Dance — There’s a lot of buzz about HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Traning), which is the idea that short bursts of movement may be more effective in improving our health than long, steady movements. I know! That sounds like exercise talk, but listen: dancing is totally a short burst of movement. At least the way I do it. So put on whatever gets you moving, and rock out for a song or three. Ok, sometimes it’s helpful to have a glass of wine (or 3) before that dancing feeling emerges, but kids can also produce this effect. Enlist them in your shenanigans and maybe you’ll feel less awkward.
Do Yard Work — This may seem contrary to my earlier statements, but somehow yard work doesn’t feel like work to me. Mowing the lawn with our push mower, raking leaves, shoveling snow- it’s all pretty awesome. Get some tunes on your earbuds, feel the sun (or rain or snow) on your face, and get your zen on. Bonus: this is also a good way to get some peace and (relative) quiet because those kids tend to scurry away at the mention of yard work!
Walk — Ok, this is my all-time favorite way to move my body. You can do it anytime, anywhere. Walking has always been my happy place. I’ve solved a lot of my Big Life Problems while walking and thinking. I’ve commuted to work by foot (#1 reason why I miss living in a city). Walks have brought me back from the edge of anger and frustration. And I’ve taken a lot of walks just for the sake of taking a walk. Lately, I’ve been sneaking them in whenever I find myself with time on my hands (really, that actually happens sometimes— the hour my kids are in TaeKwonDo class, the 30 minutes between meetings at work, et cetera). This can really add up and I know because I use Runkeeper to track my walks (and skis, skates, and bikes).
The big idea is anytime, anywhere movement. With no equipment required (except maybe music, but you could always just dance to the song in your head).