I recently changed my exercise routine from five days a week to seven days a week. Why the change? I had a realization that doing things intermittently have a higher chance of failure (not likely to complete the full course) than every day.
How did I reach this epiphany? I learned it by observing patients in my practice. Typhoid is a an illness that is often acquired when traveling to underdeveloped countries and eating food or water contaminated with sewage. There are two types of Typhoid vaccine which are recommended for travelers. One is an inactivated vaccine in a injection “shot” form that is a one time deal and provides two years protection. The other way to get immunity is to take a series of four capsules separated by 1 day in between. So a person would swallow a capsule on day one, skip day two, take a capsule on day the, skip day four, etc. I generally prefer the capsules since they provide five years of immunity and most people would prefer one less needle in the arm anyways! Over the years, I have seen many people, including myself, mix up this routine with pills missing, misplaced, or just forgetting to take them on time. Why does such a simple task have a high failure rate?
It’s extremely difficult to keep on a schedule when it has an intermittent nature. Imagine you have an exercise schedule or goal to go to the gym five times per week. Your best friend calls and says she wants to go the movies since a great movie just opened, but that movie just happens to play when you were going to workout at the gym. Wouldn’t it be easy to think you could move that workout to the Saturday? But will you follow through when the weekend comes? Possibly, but the chances are much less likely.
As I’ve said in my blog before, our bodies crave routine. It does not like shifting bedtimes, eating habits, and alcohol habits. Jet lag is one such example of how changing our lives too much can result in poor mental functioning. Another example is being “Hangry”, which is a nickname for that short-tempered feeling when one is extremely hungry.
So what have I done with exercise? I have been doing it daily for at least thirty minutes. Sure, I may not always have time for a full gym workout, simple exercises such as the Seven Minute Workout could be just as good (if you have the luxury of more than seven minutes, you can do it twice or three times). If I have more time on certain days, then I can indulge in a longer workout. I consider even short intermittent bursts of exercise to be “placeholders” so at least I am consistent with my routine. Be creative, even the stairs in your apartment building can be your personal “stair master”. The most important thing is that you incorporate exercise into your life. Need more convincing? Read this blog.