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A Minimalist Approach to Health: Exercising!!!


On Fitness Friday last week, we talked about a minimalist approach to eating.  If you want to have the best health possible, then eating is only one part of the equation.  The other part is exercising.  No, you don’t have to work out like The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, nor is the the body of a Greek God required.  But healthy eating and exercise are critical to improving the likelihood of living a long, happy, healthy life.  The Minimalist approach to exercising is quite simple and can drastically improve your health.

Let’s talk about the principles of The Minimalist’s approach…

The Principles

We can gain many advantages from exercise, but one of the principles to follow is to exercise for enjoyment.  Exercise CAN BE enjoyed.  I am sure many of you are thinking, “How can I enjoy something that is literally tearing down my muscle?”  I understand, and exercise can be tough, especially at first.  But trust me, once you get over the initial challenge of implementing a regular exercise routine, you will begin to enjoy your time in the gym or wherever you perform your exercises.  Some people even have workout partners to “go through the pain” with them.  A workout partner can be great as you have someone to share the experience with and you are not in it alone.

Exercise is also a great stress reliever and should be seen as such.  Have you ever had a really tough day at work?  Or maybe your kids have pushed you to the limit that day?  Where do you let all that stress go?  Hopefully not on your family or friends!!!  A great place for that stress is in your exercise routine.  Let your frustrations out in the gym.  Use them to help you push yourself a little harder…to make yourself a little stronger.  Exercise can help you move past the frustration, reduce your stress, and make you stronger, both physically and mentally.  But what if you are not stressed?  Still work out.  Believe it or not, it can better prepare you for stress too!!!

You want to ensure you keep your exercise fresh by doing a variety of exercises.  Don’t let your exercise routine go stale by choosing three exercises and doing them for six months straight.  That is a recipe for boredom and can result in you giving up and quitting.  Mix things up a bit.  I change my routine up every 4-6 weeks.  This keeps my muscles guessing, my mind engaged, and my interest high.  Some say, “Variety is the spice of life.”  Put a little variety in your workouts so that they are not only effective but also fun and enjoyable.

Some Exercises

The Minimalist approach to exercise does not require you to spend two hours in the gym.  You can complete a minimalist routine in under 20 minutes.  And you don’t even need to go to a gym.  Many of the recommended exercises can be done right at home and without gym equipment at all.  Body weight exercises are perfect for a minimalist approach to exercise and can be very effective.

Here are some suggestions from The Minimalists:

  • Push Ups
    • 3-5 sets daily
    • Don’t worry about how many you can do.  Just do them until you reach failure.  Take a break and do more.
  • Pull Ups
    • 3-5 sets daily
    • These can be done anywhere that you can get a good grip and your weight is supported.  You can also purchase a pull up bar that can fit inside a door opening.  
    • Pull ups can be very tough.  Here is what I suggest.  If you can’t do any pull ups, start out by just hanging from the bar for 10 seconds.  Do this for a few workouts.  Then advance to jumping up, from a box or something, and then slowly lowering yourself back down.  Once you do this for a bit, you should be getting to the point where you can do a couple pull ups at a time.  Way to go!!!
  • Squats
    • 3-4 sets of 20-30 daily
    • You can do some simple air squats.  Trust me, these can give you a nice burn.  If they become too easy, you can pick up some small dumbbells to add some resistance, or just hold something that has some weight to it.

You can look online for some other body weight exercises like crunches, sit-ups, high knees, planks, etc…. There are a large number that you can mix in for variety!!!

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to spend two hours in a gym everyday to be in good shape.  You don’t need to look like The Rock to be healthy either.  All you have to do is commit 18 minutes a day to some simple exercises that can help you build strength, good heart health, and flexibility.  I also like stretching quite a bit so make sure you stretch before you exercise.  I actually mix some light stretching in through out my day to keep me flexible. 

Remember…it doesn’t take much to improve your health, and it can be easy to do, but you have to make a commitment and be consistent.  Use the 5and2Guy way and implement an 18 minute Minimalist routine into your day.  This little bit of work each day goes a very long way!!!

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