#30min365: 30 minutes of exercise. Everyday. For one year.

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Note: You can start this challenge at any time. It isn’t meant to be only for New Year’s resolutions. The streak of 365 straight days is the important part. Whenever you start is up to you.

A few days before the 2010 calendar year began (pretty much two years ago, today), I made a goal to exercise at least 30 minutes, everyday for a year.  Not 4 or 5 days a week.  7 days a week, for 52 straight weeks.  With 2012 right around the corner, I’ve decided to do it again this year – and I want you to join me.

So why do this?:

There are the benefits that everyone knows about (weight loss, strength gains, looking better, etc)  Personally, I do this for three main reasons:

1. Energy – I’ve found that exercise gives me natural energy.  I get lethargic when days pass between workouts.

2. Clear mind – I see a noticable difference in how I think on days with exercise.  I’m quicker, more creative, and less stressed.

3. Discipline – I think discipline in one area of your life leads to discipline in many areas – and if you know what you want, discipline is a big part of getting it.  Commiting to a daily workout and sticking to it will give you the confidence to take on other personal and professional goals.

What really constitutes 30 minutes of exercise?:

I consider the bare minimum to be any activity you do consistantly for 30 minutes that makes you break a sweat.  For me, that’s the exercise bike.  For you, it could be a 30 minute walk, 30 minutes of Yoga, or a 5K.  Everyone is different.  Most days you’ll end up doing more, but it helps to have a bare minimum activity in mind for the days where you’re just not feeling it.

Lessons I learned from my first #30min365:

1.  7 days a week is easier than 5 days a week. – This may sound counter-intuitive, but I have definitely found it to be true.  When you’ve resolved to do something every single day, it leaves no wiggle room.  You can’t say “Well I’m really tired today because work kicked my ass – I’ll just get my 5 days in the rest of the week”.  That’s a slippery slope, and makes you much more likely to stop.  Consistency is the key.  When exercise becomes as regular as brushing your teeth, there’s just no question.  No opportunities for you to let yourself off the hook.

2.  If you can do a month, you can do a year. – First of all, remember what I said about exercise.  You don’t need to run a 10k every single day.  Start with something that makes sense for you.  Just do 30 minutes of an activity that will make you break a sweat.  After about two weeks, you’ll be into the swing of things.  After a month, you’ll be a machine.  Just keep it going.

3.  Make your progress visual – This one was absolutely huge for me.  I highly recommend tracking this on a wall calendar in your home or office – something you’ll see multiple times a day. You can easily find dry erase calendars for this.  It’s a very satisfying thing to cross off a day on the calendar after each workout.  It’s even more satisfying to see a whole month of crossed-off days.  It builds your confidence and keeps the goal top-of-mind.

4.  Share your goal – Once you’ve decided to do this, start telling people.  You may be tempted to try it out a month, and then tell people when you get the hang of things.  Don’t do that.  Tell someone right now.  It makes you more commited.  When I did this the first time, I probably got asked about it two or three times a week by friends and coworkers.  That’s just one more reason to stick to your guns and get it done.  You don’t want to be that guy or girl who has to say “Yeah it was going great and then (insert excuse)”.  Community (online or in real life) is a real motivator.

5. Share your progress – At the end of each month, it’s great to look back at your calendar and see all the progress you’ve made.  I recommend snapping a photo of it and sharing it with friends online.  You’ll get a number of energizing comments and you’ll probably inspire someone else to get active.  You can even share progress with a daily #30min365 tweet after your workout.

6.  Get it out of the way – You can get your 30 minutes in any time, but if you can, just do it first thing in the morning.  I think you’ll find that exercise in general jump starts your day – it kind of makes you a little bit better at everything else you do.  On top of that, you get to walk around with a nice “done” feeling the rest day instead of trying to figure out where you’ll fit in that 30 minute workout.

7.  Half the battle is showing up – Without question, some days you’re going to be tired.  You’re going to be busy.  Just throw your workout gear on, get to the gym, and sit on the bike.  If you can just make yourself get that far, the 30 minute ride will be easy – and you’ll feel great afterwards – trust me.

8. When circumstances change, just make it work – The first time I did this, the toughest days were when I had to deviate from my routine for some reason (usually while traveling).  Plan for this and get through it.  Worst case scenario – just do push ups and sit ups for 30 minutes in your hotel room.

JOIN ME

Ready to get started? Start your workouts and start talking about them with the community on Facebook or anywhere you can tag your posts with #30min365 (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, DailyMile, Fitocracy, etc.).   Feel free to reach out to me as well. I’ll be starting, in earnest, on Jan 1, 2012.

One last thing… So what if we’re mid-way through the year and you’re just now reading this?  Start now!  I’m all for resolutions and goals, but New Years shouldn’t be the only time for them.  Start your daily exercise now and track yourself everyday for a year.  You will really be surprised at how easy and beneficial this is.

“Make no little plans.  They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized. Make big plans.” – Daniel Burnham

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