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Not getting enough exercise? Then lower the bar!

By Michelle May, M.D.

“I’ve gotta do WHAT? I haven’t even been doing the 30 minutes of exercise I thought I should be getting!” Women everywhere groaned when they heard the results of a study published in the March 24/31 edition of the Journal
of the American Medical Association.

How much exercise do women need?

According to the JAMA study, women need 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day to “prevent weight gain as they age if they consume a normal diet.” While this may motivate some women to exercise more, it raises the bar too high for many who aren’t even close.

So if you’re not getting enough exercise and feel discouraged, what should you do? First, tuck this study away as one more piece of evidence that exercise is good for you – then forget about it. Next, ask yourself this question:

What is the least amount of exercise I could do…most days, joyfully and consistently?

Do the least amount of exercise???

Yes, joyfully and consistently. When the discomfort and difficulty of making a change is too great, you
won’t. Therefore, instead of focusing on the gap between where you are and where you should be, focus on the gap between where you are and where you could be.

In fact, I suggest lowering the bar so low that the temptation to step right over it is irresistible! What might that look like for you?

  • Walking for five minutes a day?
  • Dancing to one song each evening in your living room?
  • Taking one flight of stairs at work (then taking the elevator up the other three floors)?
  • Doing floor exercises (or standing up) during the commercials of one 30 minute television show?
  • Walking one lap around the soccer field during your child’s practice?
  • Something else?

Your negative self-talk might be saying, “That’s not enough! It won’t make any difference.” But if it helps you take that first step over the bar, you are on your way!

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

One Comment

  1. I tell people to exercise during commercials and drink water. This way they are working in at least 5, 2-3 minute activities during what would otherwise be a coach potato activity. It may also deter the quantity of snacks consumed during this period.

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