All too often I get asked the same question: “How many times a week should I exercise?” My answer is always the same, “Only those days which end in the letter Y.” The person usually smiles and then asks what the least amount of time per day they should exercise. Never mind that the premise of their question is to find the smallest amount of effort required to lose weight or gain strength. They have been given the amazing gift of life in a body that can move and they want to know the minimal amount to do? My answer to this question also never changes – “Just for five minutes.”
The person typically looks at me in amazement. They cannot believe that just five minutes a day is all they need to do. It’s not all they need to do, but it’s a start and more than they are presently doing. If I had told them that they needed to exercise one hour a day for 5-6 days per week, the chance of them adding this program to their already busy lifestyle would be impossible. However, if someone were to feel that the task is achievable with only 5 minutes a day, the likelihood of compliance is much greater.
My son has been taking guitar lessons for three years. Instead of telling him he needed to practice the guitar for 20 minutes and do the homework his teacher gave him I just ask him to play me a song and see if I can guess what it is. It’s just one song. It would take him maybe three minutes to play it. He ends up playing several renditions of Name That Tune. Those three minutes turn into 15-20 minutes when he does not feel like it is a daunting task.
The same can be said of almost anything in our life. My grandfather used to paint one side of his house every year. That way every four years his house was completely re-painted. Do you feel like reading War and Peace? Go ahead. Just read two pages a day. It may take you 613 days to finish it, but you’ll be able to check that book off your bucket list by 2018. Go for a five-minute walk and see how your body feels. You can keep going if you like or if you feel like stopping you can. At least you reached a doable goal.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” is key in achieving one’s goals. People hope to achieve big goals without laying out the small steps that will get them there. Breaking down your goal into very small attainable steps might be a better approach. Nothing says you have to stop at one step either. Go ahead and perform the next step if you feel like it. The hard part comes when you make the steps too big to reach. What follows is a misstep, and you end up face down and feeling like you can’t keep going. Just start with the first five minutes.