When it comes to exercise, I’m definitely with the tortoise

When it comes to exercise, I’m definitely with the tortoise

I was just asked by a journalist writing for a health magazine whether I had any tips on starting and maintaining an exercise program. She wanted something different from the usual ‘ get a personal trainer’, ‘set goals’ and ‘start by walking’ advice that we’ve all heard a million times.

My talk on Wednesday was on exactly that, so I was ready with my answer. Which was that, while motivational speakers are inclined to tell us that the only way to make change in our lives is to commit to massive action – which I’m sure works for some people – I believe that the best way for most of us to make long-term change is to do the opposite and start really slowly.

You might think that a few minutes of stretching or lifting weights, or just walking to the corner shop instead of driving, won’t make any difference. But it’s much easier to stay motivated to do something that’s only going to take a few minutes. And, if you do it consistently, the really critical thing is that your thinking will start to change. You’ll have a sense of achievement. And you’ll start thinking of yourself as someone who does regular exercise.

Then, when you start to notice little improvements in how much you can lift, how far you can reach or how fast you can walk without getting out of breath, I believe you’ll be inspired to do a little more, then a little more until, eventually, you realise you’re doing as much as it takes to make the changes you were hoping for. And, even better, exercise has become part of your life.