This Month: When Exercise Seems Impossible

Dear Yeast Connection,

I feel so bad. I know I’m supposed to exercise but I’m so tired I can hardly get through the day much less go to the gym. Please help me get started when it just feels impossible.

Boise, Idaho


Getting started on a path to physical well-being, especially when you are taking those first steps with chronic pain or illness requires a three-fold psychological ploy. I call this ART:

    1. Accept that you are not now, nor may you ever be, an elite or even competent athlete.
    2. Realize that you improve with every new step you add to your usual agenda.
    3. Take time to take the time

By acknowledging the place from which you begin your new venture, you can take pride, and perhaps joy, from the small steps you make toward improving your physical well-being. With small, short-term goals, success is more readily achieved, and “fit happens”.

Begin your cardiovascular training by committing to one 10-minute walk or other aerobic activity such as cycling, swimming, or even yard work each and every day. Get your printable weekly exercise log here.

Each week thereafter, add one minute to your routine. When you get to one 20-minute walk, break it up into two 10-minute walks a day. Again, add one minute to each walk. When you can comfortably do two 20-minute walks each day, and the habit is fully engrained – you’ve been doing it now for over 20 weeks – try one 30-minute walk each day. Depending on how you are feeling, you may wish to continue adding time to your walks. Or you could raise the intensity by walking the same distance in a shorter period of time. Regardless you have a lot to celebrate.

See Try This! for more helpful ideas to get started exercising. In a couple of months, I’ll be giving some tips about how you can introduce strength training to your routine. So check back often.

Dr. Irv Rubenstein, exercise physiologist and nationally-certified personal trainer, is founder and president of S.T.E.P.S., Inc., Nashville’s first personal training center. Author and contributor to professional and lay fitness literature, Dr. Irv also presents continuing education training seminars for personal trainers and other fitness professionals for Exercise ETC, Inc. and Dr. Irv Fitness. He can be reached at or

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