We’ve talked about sleep. We’ve talked about water. We’ve talked about stretching. If you’ve been keeping track of our progress through that list of four foundational healthy activities, you know where this post is going. It had to come to this eventually, right? This is a blog written by a personal trainer, for a personal training studio after all. There’s really no way around it.

It’s exercise.

Exercise is kind of our jam. Okay, it’s definitely our jam. There’s no “kind of” about it.

It’s the thing we love to do, to talk about and to read about.

It’s the thing, a love of which we hope to instill in each of our clients.

But starting an exercise plan for the first time, or after a break, can be overwhelming. And trying to fit it into an already packed schedule, with work, kids, school, family, friends, social obligations, etc. can seem like an impossible task sometimes.

I get it.

So what to do? Well, I think it helps to break it down into manageable pieces. (There's a metaphor for this involving elephants, but I hate that image so I'm not even going to write it.) It helps to let go of the idea that you have to find a big chunk of time in the beginning, middle or at the end of your day to exercise.

Ask yourself this question: do you think it would be better for your long-term health to exercise for an hour every day for two weeks; or would it be better to exercise for 15 minutes a day for the rest of your life? What do you think would give you the most benefit? Doing something every day, right?

Right. So, here's what I want you to do. Figure out just how far you need to break down exercise in order for it to feel doable. Five minute increments? Ten? Fifteen? Whatever it is, assign points in your Healthy Activity Points journal to moving your body for that increment of time.

Then think about how you want to spend those minutes. Do you love exercise DVDs? Great. Do you love to dance around the house to your favorite music? Take your kids to the playground and play? Walk around the park? Hula hoop? Jump on a trampoline? Could you choose to take the stairs at work instead of the elevator? If you did that all day, how many minutes would that add up to?

Be creative. Make it fun. And seriously, make the increments as small as you have to in order to make it achievable. You can always add more over time. But getting into the habit of moving your body deliberately, every day is an important step toward good health.

We have a couple of clients who worked out with us at the studio once per week and wanted to make sure they got some physical activity into the other six days. So they started by committing to just completing the warm-up they do with us at the studio, on their own at home every morning. That was an awesome goal.

And even if 30 or 60 minutes a day is your goal, you can break that down into manageable pieces too. Three, ten-minute walks per day adds up to 30 minutes. Four, fifteen-minute bouts of activity a day adds up to an hour. It doesn't have to be all at once.

Again, the most important thing is to make exercise a part of your daily life. Establish that habit at a level that you can maintain, and you will be doing wonderful things for your body.

Healthy Activity Points Journal. Okay, your first task is to figure out your starting exercise increments and assign points to them. Brainstorm ideas for movement that seems both fun and doable for you. And then include exercise points (along with sleep, water and stretching) into your mandatory healthy activities for the day.

Second task is to bump your daily points goal up to 35. This is the last formal week of the journal project here on the blog, but I hope you'll keep going with it long after January is over!