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10 Easy Ways to Develop the Habit of Moving

Man and woman doing yoga

Okay, you’re 40-something. Maybe more. You have a few aches and pains here and there. Maybe more. You’re working 40-60 hours a week. Maybe more. You think you don’t have enough time for exercise. Think again.

That’s the story you’re telling yourself.

Tell yourself a different story.

According to James Clear in his excellent book, Atomic Habits, a key to gaining a new habit is to make it easy.

Make the intention to move more this week. Make an easy plan; write it down; check it off as you go along.

Here are 10 easy ways you can be intentional about moving more, starting this week.

1. Think “movement” not exercise

You might not need to “exercise,” but you do need to move.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) distinguishes between them.

Physical activity is movement that is carried out by the skeletal muscles that requires energy. In other words, any movement one does is actually physical activity. 

Exercise, however, is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness. Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity.” 

2. Revisit your reason for moving

In his book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, psychologist Benjamin Hardy makes a compelling argument for how persistence is more related to motivation than to “willpower.”

Hence, I’d urge you to visit and re-visit your motivation for moving your body. Research has shown a clear relationship between moving your body, and getting these outcomes:

  • improved body image
  • improved flexibility
  • burning more calories and losing more weight
  • getting better sleep
  • improving mood
  • becoming more productive.

(Yes, that last one is amazing, but true. At least one research study showed that getting more exercise improved productivity.)

3. Focus on resistance, stretching and more.

Remember, I’m preaching “movement” here, not necessarily “exercise.”

I have a colleague who swears by using the TRX stretch exercises. TRX means Total Body Resistance Exercise.

From what I can tell, this is low impact, low cost, and high return on investment for flexibility. 

4. Do movement in short bursts, several times a day

I remember a physician who once said to me, “The Centers for Disease Control wants people to exercise for 150 minutes a day. So go to the gym and work out for 30 minutes 5 days a week.”

Of course, I instantly tuned her out.

I saw only the cost, not the benefit. It costs money and takes time out of my workday. Nope, not gonna happen. But here’s the thing. The CDC never says that one 30-minute session at the gym is the only way to make that happen.

Research has shown that one 30-minute session is no more effective than three 10-minute sessions (or even 7-minute sessions!)

Start looking for things that force you to wait 10 minutes or so. Often, it’s something happening in the kitchen or laundry room. You can use that time for movement.

5. Check out some low-cost or no-cost programs

You might not know this, but Silver Sneakers offers onsite and online programs. Some fun facts:

  • Over 13.5 million people aged 65 and over are eligible for Silver Sneakers Advantage plan.
  • Several Medicare Advantage plans offer enrollees the Silver Sneakers at no cost. (Note this is not the case for “regular” Medicare plans.)
  • Here’s an 8-minute total body workout — and you can get that without enrolling!

At the very least, check it out! 

Remember, any movement is better than no movement.

6. Include “wealth” as a reason for moving

If you’re looking to be a rich person, you might try exercise to achieve that, too! Certainly, no one would trade wealth for health, but the two are not entirely unrelated.

Many studies (such as this one) show that exercise stimulates proteins and chemicals which help to improve brain function. What would happen if you had improved brain function? 

Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist, talked about her personal achievements in relation to increased exercise in a short but fascinating video.

It’s probably not a far leap between a better, clearer brain, and a bigger bank account.

7. Do something enjoyable that requires little or no equipment.

If you don’t like doing it, you won’t do it. Simple as that.

Maybe you love to do salsa dancing or skiing. Or maybe a quieter activity like yoga. Okay, great. Just pick something you enjoy doing.

You might need shoes, a yoga mat, or some dumbbells. (You could also use filled water bottles or cans of beans if you don’t have the dumbbells handy.) But if you need a room full equipment to do your routine, that might be a deterrent or at least a stall. 

8. Stay in your own environment

Doing some movement in your own home or office, or even taking a walk in your neighborhood, is often an easy way to get started.

If you have a weekly team meeting, consider taking a “meeting walk.” Everyone walks while discussing. Obviously, that doesn’t work with huge teams or with some people, but it might work for you or your team. 

9. Be honest about your own situation

The obvious situations are, well, obvious! You just had hip surgery; you’re not going to go skiing. You just had knee surgery; you’re not going to get on your exercise bike any time soon.

Don’t overlook the more subtle situations that might limit what you can comfortably do.

Some people who got their COVID shot had limited arm movement for a few weeks — almost like a case of frozen shoulder. I have a slightly wonky left knee that’s usually fine, but not always. You get my drift.  Discuss any limitations with your physician, and don’t do yourself in.

You might want to check out 10-minute chair exercises.

10. Resolve to make it a habit

Really. Identify some built-in mechanism as a trigger for your action. You could simply set a timer on your phone. Or it could be something else.

I use an app on my laptop called Time Out. It’s a prompt to remind me I need to focus my eyes away from the computer on a regular basis. I use the default: Every 20 minutes, focus eyes on an object 20 feet away. Every 60 minutes, focus on something else for 10 minutes.

During those “something else” 10 minutes, you could be moving!

My challenge to you is this: What ONE THING can you try this week that will help you to move?

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  1. stephanie

    And once again, I am getting motivation from YOU Marie…THANK YOU!
    Love the exercise in your life(Wendy Suzuki) video! We can all use a ‘re-set’ from time to time!

    Stephanie K, San Diego

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh thanks, Stephanie, you made my day! And I do try to throw in some stuff that is not just lactation — like that short video! Thanks for checking in!

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