I’m remembering a guy from one of the weight loss support groups I’ve attended, a very witty, intelligent, wry man who was determined not to exercise. He hated exercise. He wanted to lose all the weight he could before trying to move about in the world. So, despite everyone’s advice, he would not walk around his neighborhood or try to climb on a bike or go to a gym. He was 200 lbs. or so overweight, and no, no, no, he wouldn’t do it. Exercise hurt, exercise was awkward and unseemly at his size, he thought, it was out of the picture.
Our group leader never gave up encouraging him. Finally she arrived at a method. We began each session by walking around the room for two or three minutes. Slowly. No big deal. No rushing. Just strolling the circumference of the room, all of us. He did that. He didn’t like it, but he did it.
So, then, she pointed out that he already gave her two minutes of exercise that week, “How about making it three?” All she required of him was one additional minute of exercise until she saw him again at our next weekly meeting. He relented and offered that much.
After a lot of trial and error, they found a comfortable form of exercise for him: Pool walking. He had access to a friend’s swimming pool, which gave him the privacy he wanted, where gravity and friction would not hurt him.
And so, he walked for 1 minute in the pool. He wasn’t going to give our counselor more than she asked. And she didn’t mind. The next week she asked for two minutes. Over the course of weeks and months she worked him up to several minutes per day, and privately he admitted that he stayed in the pool somewhat longer than he told her he did. (“Don’t want her to get too cocky.”) Because, of course, once he went to the trouble of getting into a bathing suit and into the pool, he was fine about putting in more time.
So, what’s the point? Only that really anyone can find their way into an exercise program taking it a minute at a time. From completely non-challenging beginnings, working with hand weights at your desk, or Therabands in your easy chair, pool walking or walking around your living room, you can work your way to fitness. Work for one minute a day and plan to build up your time, adding another minute per day each week, if that’s comfortable. Do that, and by the end of the year you will be exercising nearly an hour each day. Keep it moderate, keep it comfortable for that first year.
You don’t need to start with a class or jump into a gym. Find easier ways to begin in the privacy of your own home, if that feels better. But do start. You’ll be amazed how far tiny steps can take you.