Stacking your Health Toolbox

As an Exercise Physiologist who knows just how important and beneficial exercise can be, I, myself struggle on a daily basis to “find” the time.  Starting with the first client at 5:30am and at the last at 6:30pm with copious amounts of paperwork scattered throughout you tend to wonder where the day has gone and some days the last thing I feel like doing is going to “workout”.  Now you may be wondering why I am telling you this, but I wanted to let you in on four little secrets.  One - Exercise can be tough to schedule in no matter the industry you are in.  It doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter if you enjoy exercise or not, it's important to know you are not alone. 

The second is that incidental exercise is the most under prescribed form of exercise yet has the greatest benefit.  Incidental activity is defined as any, ANY, activity that is built up over the course of the day. For example, walking up stairs, or to the bus stop even hanging out the washing. In-fact research suggests that if you do not complete any form of activity your risk of mortality is 2-3 times greater than those who do and if you complete just a small amount of exercise (incidental only) the relative risk drops to 1.5 times.  So if you struggle to implement 'exercise' into your day to day life at the moment, what are some whys you could increase your incidental activity?

The final two secrets are tools you can utilise in your day to day lives.  The first deals with the feelings of guilt that we place on ourselves for missing our exercise bouts or not completing the new behaviour on a daily basis.  This in turn can lead to us feeling stressed and anxious about the new routine or task.  Simply print out a blank calendar and put a cross in each day where you preformed the new routine or task.  Sometimes taking a step back and taking a look in the review mirror to see where we have come from and what we are currently doing to support your health and growth as a person can play a massive role in overcoming the negative emotions we place on ourselves.

Having some perspective and seeing your lifestyle as a sequence rather than a single day at a time helps you realise that in the grand scheme of things missing a day here and there in reality has no real effect on the overall outcome of your health journey.

The final “secret” or tool is the 5sec rule which I came across 12mths ago after reading Mel Robbins book of the same name.  When I comes to exercise one of the biggest killers is procrastination, but did you know procrastination is a habit - we all live busy lives juggling priorities so naturally we tend to put off those things such as exercise as we feel “too busy” and “we don’t have time”- makes sense right - until it starts to impact on your job or your quality of life - Don't get me wrong procrastination isn’t a bad thing all together but because it’s a habit we can overcome it; and it only takes 5 seconds, is  super simple and can be life changing.  

So, In the moment that you realise you should be doing something that you should act on count 5-4-3-2-1 and physically make a move or your brain will stop you.

For example: You have booked the time to go for a 30min walk in your diary but when the time comes you make every excuse not to go because you feel like you don’t have the time. In the moment you start to think negatively count 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 and stand up from your desk and start walking out the door. Don't give yourself time to come up with any further excuses.

When you count backwards, you mentally shift the gears in your mind. You interrupt your default thinking and do what psychologists call “assert control.” The counting distracts you from your excuses and focuses your mind on moving in a new direction. When you physically move instead of stopping to think, your physiology changes and your mind falls in line.

So give it a go.  Realise you aren’t alone in the battle to increase the amount of exercise you do but there are ways to make it easier.  If you would like to connect with me feel free to shoot me an email: michael@stackhealth.org

Bryce FinckComment