Want to know how to start exercising? I’ll give you the hints you need to think in a different way. You know exercising is good for you, will improve your mood and nourish your brain, right? So, why is exercising so hard to start. Lots of people say “I don’t have time.” Is that the lie you tell yourself?

Motivation is one way to think about exercise and how to get started

If a magic fairy granted you 3 wishes if you just spent 40 minutes a day, 3 days/week watching TV,  my guess is that you’d watch the TV.  You would probably make changes to your schedule to find a way to spend an extra half hour or so relaxing in order to enjoy the benefits of what you wished for.

In my humble opinion, “I don’t have time” is often a lie we tell ourselves. It’s much easier than admitting the truth “I am not going to exercise because I just can’t get motivated.”  Acknowledging the lack of motivation problem is the first step to change, and making that change is easier than you may think.

Willpower is not how to start exercising

You might think I’m going to tell you to dig deep and harness that willpower you have deep within you. Nope. Willpower is a lot like a muscle.  If you use it, it gets stronger. If you haven’t used your exercise willpower in a while or ever, it is weak. It will take time to build itself back up. In order to get started with an exercise program, you’ll need to rely on some other powers you have. Rather than get sidetracked by a short-term weakness, let’s play off your strength.

Socializing in Covid 19 is a great way to start exercising

How to start exercising without thinking about exercising? That is the question. I like to assume the best about people, so I’m going to assume that if you make a commitment to a friend, you are the type of person who honors it. I’m also going to assume that you enjoy spending time with friends, and that your friends enjoy spending time with you.  So, how about setting up a regular time to get together with a friend. And how about making that time an opportunity for you to each do something good for the other? Are you willing to commit to honoring a friendship? I bet you are. That’s the strength that will power you toward your exercise goal while serving others.

How to start exercising by simply helping a friend get outside where you can socialize and social distance at the same time

Now, let’s go one step further, literally.  What is something active that you and your friend can do together in person while practicing social distancing, or virtually? How about meeting each other to go for a walk, or agreeing to both join the same online exercise class, or riding your bicycles to meet each other for an outdoor meal? Think of this activity as a way to bring the joy of connection to each other during the pandemic and beyond.

How to start exercising can easily be achieved by just being social

In short, rather than committing to starting an exercise program, commit to adding a new fitness related social activity to your calendar. Focus on being social; the exercise is secondary. Harness your strength. Leverage the fact that you are already a good friend, and that you honor your commitments. Use your personality to bring joy to your friend and open your heart to receive joy in return. If you tap into those strengths in order to do something active together, you will have lifted your own mood, helped someone else, and BTW, you will have started an exercise program.


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Leslie Gold

Leslie Gold, Founder and Executive Director of Strides in Recovery Leslie is an RRCA-certified running coach who specializes in training the newly sober. As a volunteer at a residential addiction treatment program, she has coached hundreds of people in early recovery across the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, more than any other coach in the country. Years later, many of the participants still credit the group training and life lessons learned as critical to their long-term sobriety. Inspired by these success stories and numerous testimonials about the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits of training for a challenging endurance event with the support of a team, Leslie started Strides in Recovery. The mission of this non-profit is threefold: 1) Bring running/walking-based relapse prevention programs to more recovery communities 2) Strengthen and grow the community of sober runners/walkers 3) Educate addiction treatment providers about the healing power of goal-oriented group training Prior to starting Strides in Recovery in 2018, Leslie spent three decades leading clinical and financial performance improvement projects, implementing decision support solutions, and generating analytics for hospitals and health systems across the US. She holds an MBA from UCLA and a BA from the University of Virginia. She regularly runs 40-50+ miles/week and has joyfully completed a 50K, 9 marathons, and numerous shorter distance events. She is also an avid cyclist.

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