Health

The Truth about Exercise

Simple, sustainable workouts for all

Want to get in shape?

Yes, the whole subject is a drag. You know what you must do will be tedious, painful, unfun, and probably fail anyway.

But there is a better way. Make exercise part of your daily life. The good news is that it is possible with nothing but your own body right in your own bedroom.

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It’s not hard. Here’s what you need to do:

1: Exercise first thing in the morning
Mornings are a problem for many of us. We awake from deep sleep, stumble to the coffee machine, start sipping, check email, surf the web, and make our way to the hot shower. Then we stand there as the water vaguely lulls us back into a bed-like comfort, get out, get dressed, and then go somewhere and sit all day.

But we have never really told our bodies to wake up. Here’s the fix. Assuming you have had a good night’s sleep, which is critical, then deny yourself a shower first until you do some simple exercises. Do them every day, no matter what. Maybe it only takes a few minutes at first. In practice, you end up doing more exercise, more consistently, than most of the big-commitment regimes that you don’t end up following anyway.

Exercising in the morning isn’t just about getting it out of the way — it’s more effective in slimming you down. New research from Northumbria University in Great Britain has found those who exercised in the morning on an empty stomach burned up to 20 percent more body fat.

2: Follow a routine
The key is consistency. Never let a morning go by when you do not do something to get your heart pumping. And it doesn’t need to be hard.

People imagine that workouts have to be exhausting and leave you beaten up and ragged. It is precisely this expectation that causes people give up on a routine. A workout you dread will be the one you do not continue.

Push-ups, squats, crunches. These are not head rolls. The point is not to lift the head.

For that reason, it is best to start (and really continue) with easy things. The point is not quantity. It is quality and consistency. Just start with these few simple basics.

Shot of an attractive young woman working out at the gym

Push-ups: I started with 10 push-ups. No big deal. Then I added another 10, and then another. Then I changed my push-ups to military style. These work your triceps and upper chest. They feel completely different from regular push-ups and they are much better for you.

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Then do squats. They’re a great exercise for your entire body. 

iStock_000019151488_LargeThen I added hard crunches. These are not head rolls. The point is not to lift the head. Keep all movement in your lower stomach. If you can do more than 10 at first, you are doing them wrong.

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(source: bodybuilding.com)

Then do on-the-door pull-ups (assuming your door is strong enough).

I began to rotate these in three sets of 10. The entire thing can take as long as 15 minutes but no more than that. The important thing is that you never fail to do what it is that you do. Just stick with it, day after day. Just keep thinking to yourself: it is only 10 minutes. Surely you can do this.

None of this is hard. It only takes some mind games, a floor next to your bed or in the bathroom, and a few minutes each day. Maybe you won’t lose weight immediately. But you will feel your body begin to change. For every three pounds of muscle gained you raise your metabolic rate by an average of 120 calories a day. So while you’re not getting the cardio blast of a mind-rattling, knee-grinding job, you’ve begun a steadier burn that can torch  an additional 25 percent of the previous morning’s calorie burn well after you’ve tossed in the towel.

Do this routine, or some form of it, consistently for two weeks (and plan to keep it up), and you will already feel the results. Your mind and body are tending toward health. It feels great. This new feeling will affect other things throughout the day. You will begin to let go of your sense of sloth and decadence and start to embrace other habits that you know are good but that you haven’t embraced.

You will start to think about what you eat. You will lose the sweets. You might start skipping meals in favor of work. You will cut down on the fries. And so on. It’s all about rethinking the place of exercise in your life. You might add more exercises to your routine.

It’s the beginning of a new way of life. 

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