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Tiny Changes Add Up When it Comes to Movement

I’m going to tell you a secret: You don’t have to make huge, life-altering changes to your exercise routine (or lack thereof) to improve your health. Small changes count, and they add up over time. Not only that, but they’re easier to stick to!

How I started small to maintain an exercise routine

Since having a child a few years ago, I’ve found exercise harder to fit in, particularly strength training. I kept limiting myself by thinking I had to go all out in order for it to count, so instead of doing a little, I did virtually none. Luckily, I finally realized I just needed to do something simple instead of something big, so I committed to completing a bodyweight routine at home on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It takes less than ten minutes, I don’t need to leave the house, and I feel accomplished. Oh, and most importantly, I’m actually sticking to it!

I’m asking you to think about doing the same thing. Not the bodyweight exercises (unless you want to!), but taking to the idea that you can start small and that’s good enough.

Tips on how to start small to make exercise a habit

Read on for some more motivation.

  • According to one study, the people who move the most are the least likely to die prematurely, but it doesn’t matter at all if the movement is walking down a hallway or running a half marathon. Any and all movement counts toward the total movement of the day, and it adds up. Even if you just start parking farther away from work than usual, it counts!
  • You’re probably going to have an easier time adapting to more movement in your life if you take small steps instead of huge ones. In other words: Instead of going from zero to promising yourself that starting tomorrow you’ll go to hot yoga 5 days a week, try committing to walking for five minutes after dinner every night, and mark down if you’ve done it or not. That’s it. Just try something small (did I say that already?)
  • Remember this: willpower is a limited resource, and the more decisions you make each day, even about simple stuff, the less of it you have. If you take a five minute walk after dinner often enough, it just becomes a thing you do, rather than something you’re trying to force upon yourself. It no longer takes willpower to do it.
  • Now that a five minute walk after dinner isn’t so tough, you can make additional changes. Try walking ten minutes after dinner, or walking five minutes then doing some body weight strength training for five minutes (like squats or push ups). Just keep it easy, and write down whether you’ve done it or not.
  • Give yourself a high five for all that you accomplish. We’re trained to work hard, play hard, and that we always have to be the winner. That can add guilt if you’re not setting and achieving super fantastic goals. Instead, even if you’re just adding in a few minutes of extra movement to your life, you need to let yourself know you’re doing a good job. You’re in this game for life, not just a month. Let yourself enjoy the small changes you’re making and know they’re enough.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    6 months ago

    I like going for walks as well.

  • diabetesmom
    7 months ago

    So very very true!! I walk. That’s my thing. I can’t wait for spring to come so I can walk outside. I love my treadmill but not as much as I like walking out side.

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