It all started with my brother. He was Looking for a way to overcome his training slump so he came up with the idea that he would do at least 20 minutes of exercise every day. No breaks, no weekends, no time off.
That was on 2/26/2006. He told me about it, and I thought about it for a while.. almost a month. and started doing it (albeit a bit differently) on 3/19/2006. Yesterday was my 365th day. (I went running)
So, basically, the plan is simple. Work out in some fashion every day, for at least 20 minutes. See how long you can keep going at that.
Like anything else.. your mileage may vary, you get out what you put in, etc etc.. In my experience, I *rarely* exceeded the 20 minute minimum by much, as I was generally in a hurry to get back to the other things I had going on in my life, but the net total is more than I've ever regularly exercised in my entire life, so I call that a win. Just the fact that I had a goal and something to lose if I didn't keep going, kept me going.
By contrast, my brother, who started this mess has maintained an average over an hour, but he's got things to train for. I just wanted to stay in shape and get a start on beating back my 30's metabolism.
I've worn out a couple pairs of running shoes. Running is the simplest activity that I found I could do absolutely anywhere I found myself. My GPS says I did 597 Miles. (95 hours running, 65,000 calories burned.)
I've done Lots of strange and generally pretty fun things in search of something to count.
I've been running in 3 or 4 different states, early in the morning and late at night, semi-drunk and sober. I went for a run on the morning of my wedding day, while traveling in New Mexico, and on the docks around Baltimore.
When I had the flu, I reduced my output to a brisk walk (ok, maybe it wasn't that brisk) up the hills near my house. It sucked, but I figured it was good enough.
When our city was buried in a blizzard, I went snowshoeing every day, and started counting the massive amounts of digging I was doing as my 20 minutes of exercise.
I spent some time backpacking this year, and snowboarding, and on treadmills in gyms, etc. I rode my bike a bit, (but not as much as I have in the past) When in doubt, I just ran.
I started out at about 150lbs, (which is an acceptable weight for someone who's 5'6") At first, I dropped down to about 135 (I didn't really have much fat to spare at that point), held there, and now I fluctuate around about 140. I got a weight set for Christmas, and have been doing more strength stuff, so I'm hoping that some of that weight is changing to muscle. I think it is, but I have no measurements.
I figure, 20 minutes is ~1.4% of your day. If you can't find a way to dedicate that much time to your health and well being every day, something is wrong.
There's no real rule about any of this, but sticking to the 'every day' part seems pretty important. It keeps you from making deals with yourself, like "I'll do twice as much tomorrow" or "I'll work out on the weekend" Whatever you choose be as simple as a brisk walk. Chances are, after a year it'll be more brisk walks than you've ever taken before.
In the end, if you do it long enough, it becomes a habit.
If you run, go to a good running store, have them put you on the treadmill, and check out your gait. Get appropriate shoes. Pay as much as they cost. Good shoes saved my knees at about mile 300.
An iPod is a wonderful thing. On days when I'm feeling unmotivated, I listen to an audio book and tune out for a while. On days when I want to do well, I put on a good fast mix. The difference can totally be seen in the data recorded by my gps, what I was listening to that day.
Wii Sports Counts. Especially vigorous tennis and boxing. ; )
it's never too late. just go. (I've gotten in the pattern of running at like 9pm.. it's quiet, there's no traffic, it's cool outside.. pretty nice.. really) bring a flashlight. Those features are side effects more than anything though. I run late at night because I've put it off the whole day.
Well, I guess I'll keep going. I have to say, lately I've been feeling pretty burnt out on running. So I need to mix up the sports a bit. I might find a rock gym, or a swimming pool or something. (or just go run somewhere else). Also, in the interest of keeping a healthy body AND a healthy marriage, I'm going to start counting walks with my wife. For a while there I would go work out after going for a walk with her, or sometimes instead of going for a walk with her, but I think I need to focus more on the philosophy of getting some kind of exercise rather than maintaining high standards about what I count. More than that, if someone wants to come along, I should make them more important to me than the goal. : /
In the long term, I'd like to look back 5 or 10 years from now and say I never missed a day.