What I learned from a month of daily exercise
Minutes per Day
My exercise log for February
For February this year, I decided to continue my “goal of the month” with exercise.
I figured that exercise once a day (while keeping up my morning meditations, although not 2 hours’ worth) might be easier, and I was right: I only missed one day of exercise in February.
Not too bad!
Besides finding out that doing 30-60 min of exercise is easier than 2 hours of meditation, because of the sheer amount of time involved, the other thing that surprised me most was….I got stronger. Progress is possible.
Although I’ve practiced over 1,000 hours of yoga and taught hundreds of hours of classes, I don’t identify as an “athlete.” To date, I haven’t done a marathon (although when I did a 10 day Goenka vipassana retreat, it came close, if you count mental marathons, ha ha). I’m not the kind of person to lift super heavy barbells either….
So I was pleasantly surprised when I felt stronger after a month of various kinds of exercise of at least 30 minutes a day.
Types of exercise I did
I got off the couch, and you can, too!
What I learned from the experience
I had to do more laundry because of working out more often
Translating an increase in willpower/motivation that I developed from the prior month, when my goal was to meditate two hours a day, was relatively easy to translate to a related new goal: I just replaced my evening meditation time with evening exercise time
My core and leg strength improved: I noticed I was able to do a “hollow body hold” ab exercise 10 seconds longer than a few months prior, and at a Pilates class, one of the exercises felt easy (!) so I increased the leg weight.
Exercise makes me hungrier, so I ended up eating more.
My intention was to exercise at least 30 min daily, not specifically to change my weight, but this was interesting to notice. This Scientific American articlediscusses exercise and food in more detail.
Exercise contributed to some positive improvement in my mood, but not all the time. The effects on mood seemed inconsistent. Sometimes I’d feel more tired and sometimes I’d feel more energized after a workout.
While I’m a morning person, going to yoga at 7 am made me feel sleepier rather than energized for my day, which surprised me. I guess it was really relaxing.
Cardio isn’t the only thing that can boost my mood: Qi gong was also helpful, even just 25 minutes
As I went to the gym more often, I noticed more little things that annoyed me. Last year I joined a low cost gym where I knew I wouldn’t feel bad if I only went once a month, but when I started going 2 or 3 times a week, I found myself wanting to upgrade to a fancier gym where I knew there would be better quality equipment.
The toughest workout I tried was the Dailey Method. It was more intense than barre, tougher than Pilates, and more cardio than yoga, I was sore for I think 3 or maybe 4 days afterward.
I didn’t look forward as much to exercising every day as I did to meditating every day.
The mild low back pain from the additional 2 hours of sitting (from my month of twice-daily meditation in January) mostly went away with exercise.
If I felt like I didn’t have time to exercise, I put on a timer for 30 minutes and turned up the volume on a DJ-curated dance playlist and did cardio at home, including stuff along the lines of:
10 heel to butt hamstring warm-ups
10 “high knees” (marching) warm-ups
10 jumping jacks
10 wall pushups
10 high kicks
10 side kicks
repeat that 4x and you’ve got your heart rate going!
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Struggling to get off the couch? Curious about personalized yoga instruction for your needs? I specialize in creating custom yoga classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and online, for:
People who think they can’t do yoga
People recovering from injuries
Office workers with repetitive movement issues
Active movement (great if you sit a lot)
Cultivating stillness and ease (helpful if you feel depleted from doing too much)
I teach vinyasa, hatha, prenatal, yin, restorative yoga, because it’s good to have different options depending on what life throws at you.
Let’s chat about how your yoga practice can work for you, rather than the other way around!