For many of us, the end of the year is a season of reflection, recharging . . . and setting unrealistic health and wellness goals. Ideally, we’d all be healthier this year than we were last year, but constraints such as time, money, and maintaining professional and social aspects of life can make hitting the gym regularly more of a reach than we’d like.
But unless there’s a long race or sports competition in your plans for 2018, working out doesn’t have to mean a sweat-inducing hour four to five times a week. As with most things in life, quality is more important than quantity, and consistency is key. Committing to just one ten-minute workout a day (and let’s be honest, we all spend at least that much time scrolling through our social media feeds) can do a lot more for your fitness level—and overall wellness—than you might expect. Here’s why.
01. It’s not just better than nothing.
There truly is power in positive thinking. Knowing at the end of the day that you did something good for yourself is more likely to motivate you to try again tomorrow than feeling bummed or guilty for letting your health fall to the wayside—again. When you choose a workout style that is engineered for a short period of time, you can still see and feel results. A quick morning yoga video may lead you to sit up straighter. You may sleep better after engaging in a HIIT workout. A new study published in Neuropsychologia found that just ten minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise (they used gym bicycles) significantly improves brain function. Your mind and body won’t change overnight, but when you choose to rejoice in these small successes, you set yourself up to do more good the next day.
02. You’ll get reenergized.
The struggle to get moving is usually more about the mind than the body. Sitting here right now, you may have a million reasons why today isn’t the day to get started. But once you get going, you find those excuses far less tempting. That’s because the immediate benefits of exercise are well documented: Your mind is sharper, your self-esteem higher, your sleep deeper, your mood happier, and your skin rosier. Redirect the time you spend not feeling so great into feeling your best. For just ten minutes, it’s worth a shot!
Luckily, the internet is chock-full of options for everyone:
- Easy ten-minute workouts for busy moms at Parenting.com
- Quick workouts for yo-yo exercisers at Oprah.com
- The best ten-minute workout videos (including one for the office and one for two people) at Health.com
- For traveling, there’s a ten-minute airport workout video at FOX
03. You’re likely to keep going.
People often say that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. The scientific reality is that it takes at least twenty-one days, and every person’s results will be different. Still, on average, you’re looking at about two months (sixty-six days) to get a new healthy habit to stick. Is it realistic to commit to three or four one-hour classes that involve travel and enough time afterward to shower right off the bat? Not for many of us.
Success hinges on setting the right expectations for you. When the goal is to make a lasting lifestyle change, jumping to an extreme can be counter-productive. If you make exercise resolutions that don’t stick, start with smaller, smarter goals. If you’re rarely working out now, take ten minutes of your lunch for a walk or tack it onto the end of every evening, even on date night. When you miss a day, don’t sweat it. As you reap the benefits of those ten minutes, you’ll be inclined to devote more time to your workouts. Trust the tortoise: Slow and steady is the way to win the proverbial (or literal) race if a walking or running routine is what you’re going for.
All this to say . . .
With the variety of fitness materials available online these days, you really need little more than a smartphone or computer and a human body–size bit of living space to improve your fitness level in 2018. No one is expecting you to lift a hundred pounds or win a 5K. Rather, focus on caring for the precious body you have, as it exists today. The most powerful motivation to work out comes from loving your body, not hating it. Find something you love, something that makes you feel better than you did when you started, and you’ll be on your path to wellness in the new year and beyond.