I was talking the other day to my friend, Mandy, who lives in San Francisco. She was lamenting that even though she loves it, and even though she feels great from doing it, she just can’t keep up her yoga practice. She’s a nurse and sometimes her schedule gets crazy. She feels that once she breaks the routine, it’s over, she stops trying. She believes if she doesn’t hit a certain amount of time practicing each week it’s just time wasted.
The common misconception here is that exercise doesn’t count if there’s no consistency. Recent research has demonstrated that exercise is cumulative, meaning if you do 10 minutes of exercise one day, then another 7 minutes the next, then you will get the benefit of 17 minutes of that exercise for the week. 17 minutes is not much, but it is a step in the right direction.
My advice to Mandy was start small. Even if she didn’t think it would “add up” to anything, commit to a half hour a week to some sort of exercise, yoga or otherwise. She could do ten minutes of yoga on the three days a week that she doesn’t work. I asked her to give herself a chance to look forward to it and a chance to, frankly, fall in love with it. The fact is that once you start exercising, you feel better. When that happens, your relationship to exercise will warm. Suddenly priorities change and there’s a few more minutes here and there to get an exercise fix. And as you “practice” exercise, you get better at it, and therefore are able to make more out of less time. At least that’s been my experience at Crescent City Strength.
I have a client that started training with me about a decade ago doing one 30 minute session a week. At that time, I knew he had some interest in running, but nothing beyond that. He’s now a triathlete looking to compete in an Iron Man. Who knew he would go there with his training? As far as I could tell, the only motivation for his path to triathlons was that he just fell in love with exercise, with the way it felt to challenge himself, and with the strength and energy he got from it.
When another client began training with me, she was running 3 to 5 miles a few times a week as a form of exercise. Over time, we had to start navigating our training sessions around her running schedule until one day I realized we were having to make room for half-marathon training! Again, not by any particular influence or motivator. Exercise is its own self-perpetuating motivator.
If you don’t fall in love with training, well, a half hour a week of high intensity training is really a small price to pay to receive most of the benefits exercise has to offer.
The point is, time is not an obstruction to your pursuit of health and fitness.