Exercise slumps—we all have them. It can start as a result of a difficult work week or relationship issues or because it’s too cold or hot outside or just plain laziness. Sometimes it’s just hard to get motivated to go for that run, get to the gym, settle into a yoga session, or even get off the couch. There are hundreds of reasons why we don't want to or “can't” bring ourselves to exercise. But how do you get out of an ongoing slump?
If your slump has lasted more than a couple of days, then my advice is to start small. Just commit to five minutes. Five minutes, you say? Yes, just five minutes.
Do a quick 5 minutes of any kind of exercise: walk, run, do pilates, some boxing, yoga, or dance around your room to really loud music. Anything.
Get up, turn on some music, and just start. If after five minutes you want to stop, then do. Let yourself. But more likely you'll find yourself saying, "Shoot, I can do another five minutes." If so, KEEP GOING. After those five minutes, see how you feel. If you can, KEEP GOING.
It is crucial to have good upbeat music for the first five minutes. It can make or break your decision to continue. Did you know music is one of the only activities that activates, stimulates, and uses the entire brain? A scientific study published in NeuroImage found that “the processing of musical pulse recruits motor areas in the brain, supporting the idea that music and movement are closely intertwined.” Music is like your battle sword against returning to the couch; it can keep you motivated to push on for another five minutes.
You might be cured after the first day, the first five minutes, but if not, every time you find yourself coming up with reasons to skip the workout, just commit to five minutes. In no time, your slump will be a thing of the past and your five minutes will be closer to fifty.
Why does this work? Once you get yourself outside or in the gym or the studio, it is far easier to keep moving forward. It is far easier to want something when it is right in front of you. Kind of like how you don't necessarily think about cake all day, but if someone slides a plate of it your way, suddenly out of nowhere you really want a piece of cake. It's kind of like that but healthier. Unless of course the cake is really a Sunwarrior shake, and then they’re about equal. But both are necessary to live a vibrant healthy life.
Five minutes of exercise is like an espresso shot to the mind and body. It helps with better circulation, improves mood, and bolsters the ability to focus and think. Five minutes of music opens creative pathways in the brain while improving mood and inspiring our bodies to move. Together they are a formidable combination that will have you swinging from lampposts in no time. Or at least feeling like you could if you wanted to.
But the important point here is to start small. It doesn't matter if you were a world-class athlete, a working mom, or a middle school teacher before your exercise slump. Just commit to five minutes. Don't worry about the rest, you'll get there. As science says, an object in motion will stay in motion.
- choose a playlist of upbeat music
- get your five minutes on!
Idea for an indoor 5-minute circuit:
Paddle out Routine
- Lay on the floor on your stomach with your toes lifted 6 inches off the ground.
- Slightly arch your back and lift your arms as if you are superman (or superwoman). Pull your left arm back like you are swimming. Now your right arm.
- Continue “paddling” in a uniform motion for 10 strokes, 5 each side. Make sure you tighten in your core and your glutes.
- Rest for 5 seconds.
- Paddle for another 12 strokes, 6 each side, but also flutter kick your feet behind you, toes still slightly lifted off the ground.
- Rest for 5 seconds.
- Now place your hands parallel with your chest.
- Bend your back foot, whichever one you would kick a ball with, into the opposite thigh.
- Push your chest off the ground.
- Then bring the foot of the straight leg forward under you, and distribute weight evenly between back and front foot.
- When done fast steps 7–9 are called a “Pop up.” When you pop up, make sure weight is distributed evenly between your legs and you are balanced in your center. Your stance should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart, while keeping knees bent.
- Throw your arms up to the left, while tightening your tummy and squeezing your glutes.
- Now throw them to your right, while tightening your tummy and squeezing your glutes.
- Do each side 10 times.
- Return to starting position (laying face down).
- Repeat the entire sequence 3–5 times.
P.S. Five Minute Increments can apply to just about anything in life. If you want to learn to play guitar, or start painting, or learn Spanish, whatever it is, no matter how busy your day might seem or how tired you are at the end of it, if you can just commit to five minutes, you will still see results.
But more importantly, you will find a passionate inspiration inside of you to KEEP GOING, that you had not known before you started committing a small piece of your day to whatever it is that you have been wanting to do.
Life is short and unpredictable. Live it well.
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