I started my own business about a year and a half ago. Not only did I start my own business, I was teaching at Mount St. Mary’s College and treating college musicians at The Colburn School here is Los Angeles, but I was also working part time with a previous employer simply trying to make ends meet until my business was up and running. I was working at least twelve hours a day, six days a week, for months. I was on an adrenalin high every day just making sure I was driving in the right direction, getting to the proper destination for that day. With that kind of schedule, one of my passions went by the wayside immediately—regular exercise. I fell off the wagon.
I have always been active. I was a gymnast for a few years and then started swimming competitively at the age of nine. This continued through high school, college, and into my twenties when I transitioned to triathlons. Then I injured myself, the final straw that motivated me to go back to graduate school to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I am one of those people who have always enjoyed exercise. I got what they call a “runner’s high” after any swim workout, yoga class, run, etc.
As a physical therapist, my job is very active—just one of the reasons why I love what I do. But it’s not like I get the endorphin buzz after a workday as I do after a great workout. When I didn’t exercise for several months last year, I felt like I was committing a sin to myself.
Considering an important part of my job is to help people get moving again, how I could I be preaching what I wasn’t practicing? What kind of role model was I?
This last year, my schedule has become more manageable, allowing me to return to a more moderate exercise routine. Not to mention, the addition of a new puppy to the household guarantees I will get out for regular exercise on a daily basis. Although my schedule can still get pretty hectic, I also remind myself that I am no longer a collegiate athlete and do not require rigorous physical exercise five to six times a week. Now, it’s about reaping the simple benefits of regular exercise, being a role model to my patients, as well as honoring my body’s needs. Moderate exercise is great for preventing injuries, promoting good heart health, and overall mood, all while trying not to fall off the exercise wagon.
Here are some suggestions that have helped me maintain a moderately active lifestyle.
Remember, it’s not always about burning hundreds of calories but rather restoring an active, fun lifestyle that can help bring back a balance in your life on a physical and mental level.
1. Put It on Your Calendar
Whether you schedule your appointments on your iPad, smartphone, or use a simple pen and paper, scheduling in your daily or weekly exercise means you are more likely to do it. For me, I know this is a sure way I won’t miss out.
2. Have a Routine
If possible, pick a couple of days and times in the week that you know you make the commitment to exercise. Start with one or two days a week. Try not to get over zealous and schedule five days of workouts, as you are more likely to sleep in, reschedule, or cancel altogether. Just like puppies and babies, our bodies really do like a schedule.
3. Walk. Don’t Drive
Now, I grew up in Los Angeles, the city where rush hour traffic can sometimes last all day. I have spent many hours commuting on a daily basis. These days, I am lucky enough to live in a small coastal beach community where I can very easily walk a couple of blocks to the nearest grocery, coffee shop, or restaurant. Whether I got a workout in that day or not, I walk. I save on gas; I get fresh air, and I also get to support my local community.
4. Hi-tech Workouts
You have to love the Internet. For those of you interested in trying Pilates or Yoga but may not have the time or income to pay for studio classes, thanks to my mom and a past patient, I have discovered Pilates Anytime and YogaGlo. Both of these companies offer hundreds of online classes varying in styles, lengths of time, difficulty, etc. The best part is you can log on anytime and attend a class at your convenience!
5. Get a Partner
I know for a lot of people, having a workout buddy keeps you accountable. It also allows for a social outlet and added motivation, making exercise more fun than anything else.
6. Pick Something YOU enjoy
So many people get a gym membership, thinking that’s going to motivate them to exercise. Instead, they waste their money. Make sure you pick a form of exercise you actually enjoy. If you don’t like to exercise indoors, then get outside. Walk. Run. Swim. Go for a bike ride. Rollerblade. Grab your yoga mat and workout in your backyard or local park.
Remember, just like anything new, it’s easy to get over zealous in the beginning. Start out moderately. Start with a shorter routine one to two times time a week. Try something that keeps you coming back for more rather than just wanting to leave it for another day.
Erin Carr, PT, DPT, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at The Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine and The Colburn School. She loves working with people of all ages with a variety of conditions using a multi-faceted treatment approach. She works with you, taking a team approach with the goal of diminishing pain and restoring optimal function. To learn more, you can visit Erin’s website www.erincarrpt.com.