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When Exercising - Everything Counts

Posted May 06 2008 3:02pm

When Exercising - Everything Counts: Part II Yesterday, we began by asking some question regarding exercise, specifically, “How much is enough?” “Do I need 20 consecutive minutes? Or 30 or 40?” “What if I don’t have a full half-hour to spare that day?” From a motivational perspective, there are compelling reasons to tell Americans, especially women, that in actuality, “everything counts.” We live extremely busy lives, often with back-to-back appointments. On top of that, women often juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. Even in dual income homes, women are still primarily responsible for home-related tasks. So, in general, women have even less leisure time than men. With this in mind, encouraging women to add any extra physical activity into their lives through creatively searching out opportunities is advantageous.

The idea of “parking further away” may seem mundane, but these “opportunities to move” add up over time. In fact, I coined the term “opportunities to move” to re-socialize my clients to perceive these extra amounts of physical activity count and are opportunities they can proactively search out and claim to benefit themselves and their health.

My clients from 10 years ago report that the concept that all physical movement “counts” has been extremely important to them sustaining physically active lives all these years.

I have discovered that “everything counts” acts as a psychological bridge for women who aim to be physically active. Clients reported that on the days when they can’t do their planned exercise, they search out extra lifestyle movement, even less than 10 minutes worth. Importantly, they let themselves feel proud of their ability to proactively cope with the barriers that arise yet still “move” in some ways. This pride, and their confidence that they can make the opportunities, even amidst the challenges, acts as a bridge to the next day and bout of physical activity. “Everything counts” keeps women mindful of moving their bodies on a daily basis, and helps them identify as physically active women. Research supports the notion that identifying yourself as “physically active” is important to long-term success.

Is “more” exercise better for health? Absolutely, unless it’s to the extreme. But because life doesn’t allow us to always achieve our goals of “more” exercise, we have to learn to be flexible and appreciate any amount of physical movement.

Let’s keep that in the forefront of our minds. On the days when we can’t do the formal exercise that we hoped to, search out “opportunities to move” whenever possible. We should pat ourselves on the back and know that even if we can’t do “the ideal” we are still benefiting our well-being and health.

If you have any feedback or questions, please leave a comment.

Written by: Dr. Michelle Segar

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