How Do I Get Off The Couch?

Exploring Intensity

How Do I Get Off The Couch?

How do I get off the couch just to do it? To just move, even if it’s not vigorous?

I am asked that multiple times each week by people looking to manage their health or mood with exercise. 

Here goes:

Choose an activity you are reasonably sure you’ll like: walking or dancing or running or your own version of Zumba… whatever seems appealing. 

Next, set a goal that will actually be harder to fail at than to succeed with. We want to front-load the reward so this behavioral change effort becomes a second nature habit. 

Part of making it something that is hard to fail is figuring out when in your day your energy and schedule are most likely to allow it, AND PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR ON REPEAT at whatever frequency initially seems very do-able. 

For the purpose of establishing the routine, set slightly bigger and bigger goals until on paper, you’ve reached the target: walk around the block, run a mile, etc. The timing of when you upgrade to the next more challenging goal is determined by when you can actually accomplish the current goal without Herculean effort. Each time the goal is achieved and each time you increase the challenge, deliberately make note of it. 

A summary:

  • Choose tiny goals 
  • Program a time of day that beginning the effort is easiest 
  • Acknowledge with self-appreciation each success because movement is cumulative. 
  • Increase difficulty when ready

-Dr. S

Dear Dr. S –

There’s got to be more to this. Right?

Should you tell a friend what you’re doing so you have an accountability bud? I’ve heard that’s good.

What’s the lowest bar one can set? Put TV remote on the other side of the room? Nah. That would just piss me off, and I would stop.

Should people create a Happy Happy Joy Joy list of things that would be doable on a daily basis? Then our couch friend could have a choice. Americans like choice. That’s a loaded sentence I realize.

A tiny goal list might include: walk to end of driveway, dance to two favorite songs non-stop, do ten pushups, walk up and down flight of stairs three times.

Didn’t we suggest it should seem fun? My ideas don’t seem fun. We need a fun movement list.

– Mark G.

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