Improve Your Workout 30 Seconds at a Time

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I know that exercise is good for me, but here’s what happens when I go to the gym: On Monday I arrive determined, I jump on the treadmill and try and stay on for 30 minutes, but after 10 minutes I feel like I can’t go anymore, I do the same on Tuesday, and by Wednesday I stop going to the gym all together because I feel defeated. This has been going on for months, does my body just not want to exercise? I really do want to run.

Answered by Sarah

Your body does want to exercise. It seems you may have fallen into the trap of doing what you think you are “supposed” to. Just because we fitness experts and Health Canada recommend 30 minutes of continuous cardiovascular exercise, that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Keep in mind that you really were born to move: from kicking and turning in the womb, to crawling, to finding the strength to stand and, as a child, running as fast as your legs could carry you. As kids we instinctively ran (cardio) through the park, climbed on monkey bars (upper body exercise) and sprawled around the floor (stretching). Somehow as adults we lose our natural drive to exercise and activity becomes a forced rather than an instinctive pleasure. I recommend approaching exercise with a child-like mind.

Speaking of childhood, when we were young we learned new skills,like reading, writing and arithmetic bit by bit: you learned your two times table then your three’s. As adults, we do the opposite and try to learn and do everything at once. For example, trying to run for 30 minutes, when you can hardly do 10 is not setting yourself up for success. It’s no wonder you feel defeated and don’t want to do it again. (What if you had had to learn your eight times tables before you learned you two times table?)

So, my advice to you is to first celebrate that you went to the gym, got on the treadmill and ran for 10 minutes. This is a wonderful thing and is much better than sitting on your couch for 10 minutes and thinking about running. Secondly, if you can get on the treadmill and successfully complete 10 minutes could you do 30 seconds more? The answer: Yes.

If you stay on the treadmill for 30 seconds extra every time you get on that treadmill, in no time you’ll be running for 30 minutes. This is what I call committing to a continuous change, and can be applied to any sport i.e. cycling, rowing, stair climbing or even swimming.

Program for Continuous Change:

  • Warm up for five minutes.
  • Slowly increase your speed every minute, until your reach your desired speed.
  • Stay at your desired speed for 10 minutes, then 30 seconds more.
  • Slowly decrease your speed every minute, until you get back to your warm up speed.

Congratulations, you just ran for 10 minutes and 30 seconds. It really is that easy. Next time run at your desired speed for 11 minutes, and add 30 seconds each time after that. These small steps will help you build stamina, strength and confidence and in no time you will be at your desired 30 minutes. Don’t forget to celebrate your milestones along the way 15 minutes, 20 minutes and 25!

Sarah Brown is a very healthy woman. She is not only a fitness instructor at Goodlife where she teaches Body Pump, Body Flow and yoga but she is also a registered holistic nutritionist.

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