Minimalism doesn’t only encompass decluttering your home or simplifying your daily schedule. I recently discovered that minimalist fitness is actually a ‘thing’. It’s possible to apply the same simple principles we use in minimalism to getting fit and healthy.
Not all of us enjoy going to gym or have the time (or inclination) to spend an hour in a workout class after a long day at work.
But fitness doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive, or difficult. Here are some ways to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle so you can easily maintain a healthy body.
Understand your Fitness Goals
Training for a marathon or a body building competition requires a high level of dedication, hours in the gym or on the road, and a strict eating plan.
But for many of us, we’d just love to feel energetic and to accomplish the physical activities in our day with ease and enjoyment.
Finding out your ‘why’ can be downright enlightening when it comes to physical exercise and fitness. Maybe you don’t need to keep up with every new exercise plan that comes out. Maybe you never need to pick up a single dumbbell!
Ultimately, the goal of fitness is to have a healthy body so that we are less likely to get sick and more likely to live longer (and feel good doing it!).
If we look at countries like Greece and Japan, countries that boast some of the longest lifespans in the world, the secret to longevity comes down to a few key habits including eating a healthy diet, having a reason and purpose for living, and leading an active lifestyle.
Being active on a daily basis is incredibly important for our health, but being active isn’t limited to formal exercise sessions. People in these countries often use bicycles to get around, they walk to work, they stand in the train, they’re involved in gentle physical activity such as gardening, well into their old age.
If your fitness goals don’t include completing a race or participating in a competition, explore what being fit truly means to you and don’t be limited by a conventional image of what fitness is supposed to look like.
Keep It Simple
Ben Greenfield from the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast has a comprehensive approach to minimalist fitness. Instead of dragging yourself to a gym session or believing you need to do a 45min workout to be fit, he supports daily low-level activity as a great way to stay physically healthy. (Watch an interesting interview with him here.)
This means finding ways to be active throughout your day. Try these examples:
- Carrying your bag up the stairs
- Always avoiding the elevator in favor of using the stairs
- Walking to the bus or cycling to work
- Using a standing desk
- Creating fitness rituals: for example, every time take your trash to the curb, sprint back to the house. Ben has a pull-up bar fixed to the door of his office. Whenever he walks through the door, he does 10 pull-ups. Every morning when you get up, do 20 pushups and 20 squats.
- Do burpees while waiting for your kettle to boil
It’s better to do something every day or regularly than a big session every now and then. It doesn’t have to be complicated! Keep it simple.
Incorporate Physical Activity Throughout Your Day
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate level exercise. This works out to an easily doable 18 minutes per day!
Figure out what moderate exercise means for you and find easy ways to incorporate activity as part of your day. Use this helpful resource to figure out what type of exercises fulfill this minimum. You’ll be surprised at what type of activities are included. Who knew that washing a car, raking leaves or dancing can count as moderate exercise!
Choose a variety of activities that are achievable daily. Remember that exercise doesn’t need to only be done in one block of time. It’s totally okay to spread out little pockets of healthy activity throughout your day.
By living a generally more active lifestyle, you won’t feel pressured into squeezing in a gym or workout session to compensate for a sedentary day.
A minimalist approach to fitness will afford you all the benefits of a healthy body, allowing you to feel more energized and alive. The key is in keeping it uncomplicated, manageable and enjoyable!