Let’s play a mental exercise for a moment where we don’t have to take responsibility for how our life currently works or doesn’t work. Let’s blame big forces, corporations, politicians, advertising from decades past for how our work, home, and leisure time all go by without any need for physical activity built in. No single person designed the way we live, collectively we all accepted conveniences because they were convenient and gave us comfort, safety, predictability from the weather, from hard back breaking work, and to live with a standard of living better than the prior generation. This movement carried forward for not even 3 decades before our society started paying costs for this movement of comfort and convenience above all else. Now we can wake up and take a warm shower, eat packaged microwaved egg and cheese sandwich, get into an air conditioned car to drive to work where our air conditioning and packaged food continues while we sit and exert our mental energy without having to exert or use our body’s capabilities.
Engineering exercise into our lives will be the difference. The marketing of the health and wellness industry pumps us up with before and after photos of success stories and rocking badass bodies that might shame us or inspire us to do something different tomorrow. But when tomorrow comes we are squeezed by the grind of the schedule we have accepted like a hand me down suit from our fathers that still doesn’t fit. We want more from life when it comes to feeling better today, setting ourselves up for better health in the future, and having a sense of balance where we can give our own needs attention, self challenge, and physical movement that simply feels good.
First what can we do with our daily schedule by making small tweaks that don’t rock the boat. To negotiate 30min to 1 hour away from the office or home life to balance out. Additionally how can we make meetings, phone calls, socializing, family time physically active?
Now for the big questions, is there a way you can change where you live, work, inspire your social circle that will make a radical shift that will by design make your life more active? If you lived walking distance to work, shops, parks you would likely walk more. This is the difference between hoping you will find the time to start that new workout routine at the gym a 30 minute drive away or simply lacing up your shoes and heading out the door. The difference between the few big trips to a national park in a decade or the few weekend hikes in state parks do not have as big an impact on your life as how you spend an average day when you are simply going about your typical unsexy business. Even on the days you do not feel inspired to work out you are active. This is the difference between engineering physical activity into your life and waiting and planning for inspiration and time to be abundantly available for your health and physical fitness to take prescendence. If we wait for this to happen we are more prone to our health being forced upon us as we get slowly gradually weaker and more prone to chronic disease. It is more important to seek a typical day in which your activity level was at least moderately engaged with along with all the other demands of your life than to try to play catch up. Similarly to proper sleep, we can never get back a lost or interrupted night of sleep. Binging during the weekend on exercise and being sedentary during the week does not work, this is a recipe for weekend warrior syndrome where we get injured from overdoing our activity in big long sessions rather than doing smaller chunks more days per week that would build to fitness that would reasonably support larger adventures in the national parks, long bike rides.
Action list, take charge of what you can now to make small changes. Get the people in your life on board too, by leading through your own action, not by being a nag. Then make massive change to make a stepwise shift in your quality of life.