Exercise Compliance Secret #2: No Workout is too Short

The people who successfully maintain exercise programs have made exercise a habit. They have gotten to the point where they don't debate much about whether they will exercise or not. It is a part of their routine and they do it. Every day they shower, dress, eat, work, and drum roll ... exercise.

So how do you become one of these people? How can you be the person who seems to effortlessly fit exercise in her schedule?

Here is my second compliance secret: stop thinking of exercise as some monumental event, complete with backpacks, sneakers, towels, shampoo, exercise apparel, gear, and childcare visits. Stop convincing yourself that you have to spend an hour at the gym or it won't be worth the effort. The reality is that any exercise is better than none.

Exercise is not an all or nothing proposition. When you stop thinking you must exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes, you will find that you have all kinds of time to do it. Use it. Is your baby down for a nap that might last only 15 minutes? Exercise for 15 minutes. Do you have 30 minutes before your dinner will be out of the oven? Exercise for 30 minutes. Did your toddler just sit down to watch a 20 minute episode of Blue's Clues? Exercise for 20 minutes.

If you have a gym membership that is largely unused, I would urge you to consider extracting yourself from the confines of the gym. If you are busy, or if you are a home-bound mom, the gym may not the best option for you, because it requires chunks of time that you probably don't have. You may find getting there so stressful an activity that the stress-reducing benefits of the exercise you get are largely negated.

Run the stairs in your house. Buy an exercise mat and perform mat exercises. Purchase some dumbbells or resistance bands and get them out when you have time for strength training. Check out some exercise DVDs from the library or find some exercise programs on television. The more you do at home, the more you will learn how helpful even a chair and a door can be when exercising. Start small and build on your repertoire. Do a little bit each day. Don't go back on your commitment to yourself and your health. Don't worry about how little time you have. Use it, and it will begin to build. I absolutely promise this.

Why is this approach to exercise successful? Because it is habit forming, which leads to compliance. If you exercise every day or nearly every day, your body will come to expect it, and you will want to continue to do it. You will also begin to see that you can exercise and you do exercise, and that will give you the energy and confidence to continue.

Don't you have 20 minutes right now?

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