You need to brush your teeth every day and you need to eat every day. But you do not need to workout every day.
I know, it’s shocking and goes against what all the internet fitness gurus will tell you that you need to do for washboard abs and a chiseled physique, but I’ve got a secret – for most people in fitness, it is our job. We have time to go to the gym and take yoga and do all the things because that is how we pay our bills.
But for the rest of the world who has to work and take care of loved ones, going to the gym 5 days a week is not a possibility. And so, you may give up the notion of working out altogether. All or nothing, right?
I don’t go to the gym 5 days a week. I don’t even go 4 days a week! Because the hour spent at the gym will not make up for the other 23 hours a day spent not moving.
What is exercise? Do we workout to make up for that delicious chocolate pie we ate over the weekend? Exercise is often used to “make up” for something “bad” we did. That pie wasn’t bad (it was probably damn good, and if you savored every bite, I bet it was even better!). And one hour of high-intensity movement will not make up for the pie or the sitting or being a sloth.
Contrast this idea of exercise to movement – which is how you move your move your body throughout your day. Walking to the bank on the corner to deposit your check is moving. Using your phone to deposit it from your desk is not.
We have opportunities throughout our day to choose movement over stillness. Katy Bowman calls this “stacking your life” and it’s the idea of incorporating movement into your everyday routine rather than saving it all up for one hour at the gym.
To be honest, I go to the gym only 2 days a week at most. But I also am walking my dog at least 10 minutes 2-3 times a day. I walk to the grocery store and bank when my schedule allows it. And I try to chop my vegetables instead of dumping them into the food processor when I can (that’s movement too and it counts!).
Exercise is like the protein bar of the movement world. Yes, you’ll get all the essential movement nutrients you need, but is eating your nutrients all smushed into a chocolate rectangle really better for your body than steak and potatoes?
And if you’re like, “uh, yes Alex, chocolate is always better”, I’m going to argue that your jaw and teeth and digestive tract know the difference between a protein bar and real food ;)
So let go of the burden of thinking you have to go to the gym 5 days a week and fit movement into your life wherever you can. An easy way that I’ve written about before is putting a pull-up bar in a highly trafficked doorway in your house. Every time you pass under it, see if you can hang. This will gradually build up the strength of your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders which can help alleviate many overuse issues of the upper body.
How do you incorporate movement into your daily routine? Let me know your creative ways in the comments below!
- Ongoing weekly group classes in Glendale and Encino
- January 13-20: Wellness + Self-Care Retreat (Puerto Vallarta, MX)