Starting Exercise

This is not a lecture about exercise. The word is already out. I learned something interesting about exercise a few years ago in my French class.

I had an amazing teacher, who besides the French language, taught me a different way to look at something. She asked the question: Why do we humans exercise?

Her question may seem strange but if you think about it gyms didn’t exist until about the later half of the 1800s and not widely until the 1980s. And today we need gyms and personal trainers and apps to help manage it all.

The answer may seem obvious that we’ve become a sedentary society but what’s more fascinating is that humans before the 1980s didn’t need to think about exercise at all. Our minds weren’t focused on how and when to exercise. That is a major shift in our thinking – spending time on something we didn’t need to spend time on before.

Humans before the industrial revolution had exercise built into life – walking to get food or information, working to make food, clean clothes, etc. If you didn’t move, you didn’t live. Moving was inherently linked to our survival.

And today, a lot of us don’t even need to leave our homes to go to work. So we now spend a tremendous amount of our brain energy dedicated to something we never used to think about.

The mental energy spent thinking about it (whether’s its planning it or the guilt from not doing it) could have fueled a 45 minute kickboxing class. And that’s why starting and maintaining exercising can feel so exhausting.

So what’s the answer? Skip the mental exhaustion – much like our ancestors did when they worked to get food.

How? Decide on the bare minimum you can do in one week. If it’s walk around your neighbourhood for 5 minutes once a week then start there. Don’t get wrapped up in which program or gym is best (especially when you’re starting or even restarting).

The bare minimum is something you 100% trust you can complete each week – rain or shine, night or day, no matter what. It’s something you won’t need to think about because you’ll know you can do it. It’s guaranteed.

At some point – because our brains like to kick it up a notch – will want to add another 5 minutes and then another until you’ve established your own exercise program without spending an absorbent amount of mental energy on it. Before long you won’t have to think about exercise, you’ll just do it.

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