exercise and the 20 minute minimum

Continuing This Bumpy Path of Physical Well-Being: Exercise and the 20-Minute Minimum

I’d say the smaller the goal the better: easy to complete, more likely to repeat.


That is just the reason why I set the small goal of exercising a minimum of 20-minutes a day. I set this small goal on purpose. It’s not meant to impress anyone. I do it, simply to keep me on track, continuing this bumpy path of well-being over the long haul. Let’s say a lifetime.


If I set a fitness goal that seems like an insurmountable mountain—in time or intensity—I am less likely to complete it let alone even begin. However, if I set the goal as easy to complete both mentally and physically, I am more likely to begin and maintain it over a long period of time. That’s the goal, right ladies?


Twenty minutes is just enough time for me to feel I’ve accomplished something good for my body and not cheated it from the movement it needs. The twenty minutes gives me enough structure to keep me on the right track and work with a tight schedule if necessary. It’s easy enough for me not to give up on it.


I can always and easily extend that twenty minutes if I feel like it. After I’m done, however, I’m happy I’ve completed it. I get to pat myself on the back mentally and enjoy the fruits of my consistent labor of love.


This twenty minutes is not used to punish my body to enjoy it in movement. The last thing we need is another chore. I remain generous and kind to myself. I am gentle with myself, accepting that my intensity will ebb and flow with life, due to: energy levels, mood, injuries, sickness, etc. That’s okay.


The point is to keep moving, meeting my body’s needs faithfully over a lifetime and enjoying the fabulous work of delicate engineering we’ve been given.


Setting Up Goals like Nesting Dolls

This overarching 20-minute exercise goal acts as the largest of my nesting dolls, holding my smaller fitness goals. I can fill it with whatever I like to do, or according to what my body is telling me it needs that day.


For example:

  • One day I might want to decrease tightness, increase flexibility, or ease lower-back pain. I might do yoga and core exercises that day.
  • If I don’t want to sweat another day because my schedule is packed and I don’t have time for a shower, I might go for a calm walk.
  • If I am biting at the bit with too much energy the next day, I might integrate 30 seconds of interval running throughout a brisker walk.
  • If I am feeling like my strength has been weakening, I will start integrating push-ups and light weights.
  • One day I might just want to dance and revel in beautiful movement.


This mental flexibility, to change my exercise format and meet the current needs of my body, makes exercise that much more enjoyable and repeatable. That’s a true win-win.