Can you do one push-up a day?
If you watch commercials for exercise equipment or look up inspirational fitness photos on social media, you will quickly get the impression that the key to getting healthy is to force yourself through impossibly difficult workouts using either space-age technology or the biggest tractor tires you have ever seen.
This vision of fitness has existed since Arnold hit the silver screen, and it has hurt far more people than it has helped.
Here’s why: Many believe that getting fit means doing the intense workouts of movie stars or fitness celebrities. When someone who has struggled with their health in the past has this belief, it’s disheartening. Not only do they feel frustrated by their physical ability, but they often feel ashamed and disheartened. They can feel like they will never get to be healthy because they can’t do the workouts and cannot imagine a future that’s any different from their present.
I have these conversations almost every day, and what I share often surprises clients and coaches.
“Can you do one push-up against a wall a day?”
The response is usually about how they can start doing sets of 10 or 20, and I have to slow them down because I mean, literally, one push-up a day. Just one. Every day.
The Habits of Healthy philosophy is built on the idea that small, gradual change leads to big rewards. It’s accessible. It’s manageable. And it meets you where you are. Yes, strength training and high intensity training have their own set of rewards, but you can unlock a host of benefits doing small exercises over time.
Can you do one push-up a day? Of course you can. By the end of a month, you will be closer to building a meaningful exercise habit and will have done at least 30 more push-ups then you would have otherwise. If you keep that habit going, you will get stronger, more confident, and you’ll start to do more, but as long as you always do one–especially in the beginning–you win. That’s a monumental step forward that you should celebrate.
And your daily life is full of little places where you can add extra movement without heading to the gym. For example, you could:
- Take the long way back to your cubicle whenever you take a water break or go to a meeting.
- Stand when you take a phone call, at least once a day.
- Walk up and down your stairs one extra time before you leave for work.
None of these should sound like an intense training session, and that’s the point. Every extra calorie counts, and something as small as a few extra steps a day is actually pretty significant when it comes to your health. The movement itself helps you to fight disease, and the habits you build in these moments put you on the path to stronger habits in the future.
Don’t lose hope. You can do one push-up a day. Start there, and know that there is a whole community of people rooting you on.