For many years I was convinced that exercise should be tough, intense and painful. Such thinking trapped me into dangerous “all or nothing” attitude. Meaning if I could not spend at least 2 hours at the gym I wouldn’t even bother to go there. The strategy was working until I turned 26 and a grown-up life with 12h working days started. My workout routine got ruined and I almost stopped exercising. It took me years to realise that it was my unrealistic view on workout that got me out of shape.
Let’s get it clear – I used to be a sports maniac. My typical workouts would be something like bodypump followed by cycling, body attack followed by few kilometers on a treadmill or 10km – 15km run followed by 30 minutes of core exercise. The next day muscle pain, overall exhaustion and intense carb cravings were the side effects that I considered normal and quite frankly even necessary to make sure that my body remembered all my previous sports achievements.
With thirties approaching and more personal and professional responsibilities reaching into my life, there was no way I could keep up with my usual exercise routine. And since in my own view a workout had to be long and tough, I simply could not afford it anymore and almost stopped training at all. Occasionally I would manage to fit a gym session into my schedule, but I was clearly losing shape and two-hour intense workouts started to seem a goal too far away.
Sad, depressed and completely out of shape – in my opinion – I was dreaming about the times when my life would change, my job would become more flexible and I would be able to exercise again “properly”. As you may have guessed, those times are still just a distant dream.
A few years ago I had dinner with my absolutely stunning Swedish friend, who is a personal fitness coach and a nutritionist, she told me that the best workout is a 90-minute walk at a brisk pace.
“What? That can’t be right!” – I was thinking, while smiling and nodding at her. Then my mind continued, “Come on! A walk is not even a real workout! It wouldn’t even raise a sweat or give me an elevated heart rate, and my muscles wouldn’t hurt the next day…” Unless it was some kind of dynamic hiking in mountain terrain, I just couldn’t see how a walk could be called a workout or exercise. What was she talking about?
Obviously I would not dare to confront a professional coach at a dinner table. But this simple conversation pushed me to find out what does working out even mean.
After few minutes of Google search I found dozens of websites that described exercise simply as “any movement that works your body at a greater intensity than your usual level of daily activity”. It literally meant that anything that makes my heart beat faster can be considered a workout and it does not to have to be sweaty, long or painful.
Somehow I realised that I was looking at it from the wrong angle, and each workout doesn’t necessarily have to be a two-hour “torture”.
This simple and basic idea was like a liberating enlightenment. I started realizing how much there is to do around me and how much more productive it would be if I’d just did it a bit faster. It was really that simple!
Please don’t laugh, but here are some examples of my typical daily routine exercise:
- walking to/from work at a faster pace holding in my abs and glutes
- walking to my colleagues’ desks whenever I need to discuss something, instead of calling.
- taking stairs – always!
- Lifting and carrying my shopping bags
- doing all housework just that little bit faster
- gardening (this can get really intense!!!)
Endless exercise opportunities were always there I just searched for them in all the fancy unreachable places and forgot to look around me!
Today, I am quite happy to admit that when I say that I am active every day I also count in the above mentioned activities. This is a world away from what I used to call ‘being active’, but to my own surprise I am actually in a better physical shape now and have a steady supply of energy every day. Besides, getting all sorts of useful stuff done is a big bonus.
Of course, I would be lying if I said that the activities above are all the exercise I get, so I must admit that I am a huge fan of HIIT, cross fit, running, light weight training and Vinyasa yoga. But I believe that without acknowledging that other regular activities also count as a healthy workout I would not manage to stay in a good shape over the last years.
In addition to that, I am no longer afraid of busy periods in my life because no matter what, there is always some place to go and someone to talk to…
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