How to start a regular exercise routine today

Exercise. Now there’s a word to trigger butterflies of guilt. But it’s ok! In today’s article we’ll chat about some of the myths that are holding you back from feeling fit and active, and I’ll outline how you can start a regular exercise routine today.

First though: if the thought of breaking a sweat makes you break a sweat, feel free to swap the word “exercise” for movement…a more pleasurable term I think. And that’s what I want you to keep in mind as we cover today’s topic — moving your body IS a pleasurable experience, and it’s also an act of self love. We are literally made to move (despite modern society’s best efforts to convince us otherwise), and the more you do it the more your body will respond with delight.

Exercise makes us feel better, function better, and yes indeed, look better. So why do so many women have a hard time committing to it?

As a trainer, women’s health coach and ex-couch potato here are the four main obstacles that come between a well-intentioned woman and her fitness routine:

  1. Time
  2. Tiredness
  3. Gym access
  4. Not feeling fit enough

Let’s briefly look at each of these individually and then find a workable solution. (Taurean practicality strikes again!)

“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO EXERCISE”

Forgive me in advance for using the clichéd argument that we all have 24 hours in a day, but the reality is that we do. The average Joline breaks her day down into three categories: sleep (8 hours), work (8 hours) and personal time (8 hours).

What goes into personal time?

  • Bathing
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Commuting
  • EXERCISING
  • “Me time”
  • Personal appointments
  • Kid stuff (if that’s your reality)
  • Partner stuff (if that’s your reality)
  • Friend stuff
  • House stuff
  • Time in between for doing nothing in particular

How much time you dedicate to each of these activities depends on your personality and lifestyle. While you probably won’t get to them all every single day, by the end of the week (and your 68 hours of personal time) you can and should.

And when it comes to exercise you ONLY need spend 4 – 6 hours on it each week. If I were better at math I’d be able to give this to you as a percentage of 68 hours…but just trust when I say that it’s really very doable.

So let’s make it actionable

Step One: Dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes every day for exercise of some sort. As I said, your body is designed to move, it thrives on movement, and you’ll feel much better for doing it every single day.

I used to give clients the option to do “bite-sized chunks” of movement, such as 5-10 minutes here or there throughout the day, but I now stick with the 30 minute minimum. Why (other than toughening up in my old age)? Because taking 30 minutes to commit to movement is showing yourself that you deserve to have a healthy body, while refusing to spend that time is telling yourself that you’re not open to self love, and you’d prefer to sabotage your own personal development.

Step Two: To make this a reality you need to schedule it on your calendar as a non-negotiable meeting with yourself. And if you’re hemming and hawing about what time of day is best to exercise, the answer is simple. It’s the time you actually do it.

Step Three: To make the most of the time you’ve delegated you need to have a plan. This is more efficient and makes it easier to follow through. Don’t overcomplicate this. Walking is great. Stretching is lovely. Body weight movements are fantastic. Keep it simple and you’ll achieve success.

(Still think that you can’t carve out 30 minutes each day? Download my free audio guide: Take Back Your Time)

“I’M TOO TIRED TO EXERCISE”

Au contraire, my dear friend, movement actually gives you more energy. Being sedentary drags down your energy because your heart rate drops and your metabolism slows.

(Nothing like sluggish bowels and constant yawning to make you want to skip your workout.) 

But when you choose to be active you can quickly reverse these feelings. The simple act of taking a walk will put a spring in your step, and getting moving will get things moving (if you catch my drift)

If your fatigue is more emotional than physical, then its important to note that regular activity (especially when taken outdoors) is a healthy way to release the stress hormone cortisol and boost your mood.

And if its purely physical aches and pains, then movement could be just what the doctor ordered. Sitting all day (in cars, at your desk, on the couch) puts pressure on your back, hips and spine. The activities that you do seated (driving, computer work, eating) keep your body leaning forward, which puts pressure on your neck and mid back. Getting up, shaking out those joints and moving your body returns circulation to areas of stiffness and keeps your muscles and connective tissue strong and flexible.

So let’s make it actionable

Don’t let fatigue make you skip your daily movement experience, instead experiment with a gentle 20-30 minute walk and see if your energy doesn’t lift.

“I DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO A GYM”

This one’s not going to fly with me. If you have a pair of sneakers you have access to everything you need to be fit.

So let’s make it actionable

Leave your house and explore the wide world around you: walk, run, swim in the ocean, skip along the footpath, twirl your arms and spin in circles…. Today I walked to a nearby park and did 90 step ups, 30 pushups and 45 squats using a park bench before walking back home.

For more tailored workout routines you have access to YouTube, indeed including quite a few Jennifer Dene Wellness workouts… Perhaps you’d like to press play on this leg workout

“I’M NOT FIT ENOUGH TO GET FIT”

This is a very real reason, and one I’ve known myself. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve been very fit and times when I haven’t, and I have to say that going to a gym class and feeling like the underdog is pretty demoralizing. However, the only way that you’ll improve is by taking the first step.

Know this: wherever you are on your health and fitness journey is exactly where you should be. Your current state is the perfect launching pad for where you want to go.

So let’s make it actionable

You might like to consider finding a trainer, friend or accountability buddy who can show you how to get started on your fitness journey, including demonstrating the best exercises for a beginner and telling you those that you should avoid.

Then build your foundation from the ground up by improving your mobility, focusing on walking, and incorporating functional core strength exercises into your weekly routine. Once you’ve conquered those bases you’ll be ready to tackle any and all forms of movement that fill your heart with delight.

I hope that this article has been helpful in debunking some of the why-I-don’t-exercise myths, and has pointed you in the right direction to get moving today. As always, let me know how you go by leaving a comment below.

With love,

8 Responses to How to start a regular exercise routine today

  1. I followed your advice of “me time”.
    So two days ago I started getting up only 20min earlier and started exercising again!
    I always feel tired and drained, but I now the endorphin’s will kick in soon….I hope.
    Benefit to me and my husband and girl

    Thx Jennifer for always replying to my mails inspiring and motivating me!

    Much Love
    Lizaan

    • Go Lizaan!! That’s wonderful! Truth be told it could take a couple of weeks for the physical benefits to kick in (but they will, I promise!!), so in the meantime perhaps you can think of a little reward that you can give yourself once you finished exercising? Perhaps sitting down with a nice cup of coffee or tea, using a special moisturizer after the shower, or even standing outside and breathing in the fresh morning air. Adding this little treat at the end completes the three-part habit formation process (you’re already rocking parts one and two which is waking up and doing the exercise) and will keep you coming back for more.

      What do you think that little reward might be for you?

      Again, well done on taking your health back into your own hands!! And I’m always here for support and motivation!

    • That’s great to hear Alejandra. I know what I said about the 30 minute duration, however if you’re just getting back into it (or starting this as a new habit altogether) feel free to start with a lesser commitment. For example, you might commit to 10 minutes a day, which feels very doable. Once that becomes a habit (maybe a week or two) and feels easier, add on another 5 minutes and so on, until you get up to 30 (which is the ultimate goal). I do believe that breaking new habits into bite-sized chunks makes them much easier to follow through on. Please come back next week and let me know how you’ve been going!

  2. I love the idea of swapping the word “exercise” for “movement”! That will be my attitude and approach now — thank you for that.

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