Four no-excuses ways to exercise for better productivity

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish. – Charles Dickens

Balancing stress and recovery is essential to high performance, and I am in need of a tune up before I, in the words of Dickens, “explode and perish.”

<div xmlns:cc="" about=""><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=Yesterday I sat on a rock at Pescadero Beach, watching the waves give my ankles an icy bath, then retreat, pulling the sand from beneath my feet. The waves were mesmerizing, yet I was struggling to sit still for more than a minute. My mind and my body were both unfocused and twitchy. And I know why: I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon.

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz write that one of our most essential needs as human beings is to spend and recover energy. Lately, I’ve been spending all my emotional and mental energy without recovery while spending very little physical energy. It’s a toxic combination.

It’s not all my doing, of course. Sometimes life throws a lot our way, in my case a parade of welcome and unwelcome changes beginning with a canceled vacation in early June. So now it’s time to hit the reset button and recover my productivity by recommitting to physical exertion, along with an extra dose of mental recovery.

If you, like me, need to make physical activity a priority, here are four no-excuses programs to make it happen every day.

1. Walking

Accusplit pedometer (photo courtesy of Amazon)

Accusplit pedometer (photo courtesy of Amazon)

The simplest, and the one endorsed by Dickens, is walking. Open your front door and exit. Keep going for 15 to 30 minutes, maybe longer, then turn around and go back. If you’d like to include some fancy equipment, spend about $20 on a pedometer so that you can count your steps. Aim for 10,000 a day.

If it’s too dark or too wet out, consider a rebounder.

2. Rebounder

Bola Odulate, a marketing specialist and owner of Evangelist Marketing, has been using a rebounder for years. Every day she logs at least 20 minutes on the small trampoline-like equipment, jogging in place. The very low impact aerobic exercise was recommended to her by Dr. Robert Young, co-founder of the pH Miracle. Adherants say that rebounding is good for improved bone density, lymphatic health, and balance, as well as aerobic benefits.

(photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of

In the intervening years, she has worn out a set of springs through consistent use and had to replace them.

Rebounders vary in quality. Good ones are available for under $250. Look for one with sturdy construction, replaceable springs, a support bar, and a design that allows for easy folding. One good source is ReboundAir.

If you’d like more strength and flexibility training in addition to aerobic exercise, consider a Nintendo Wii Fit.

3. Wii Fit

Professional organizer Janine Adams, owner of St. Louis-based Peace of Mind Organizing, did some calculations.

“I’m truly a couch potato,” confessed Janine. “You pay to belong to the Y, and then you don’t go.” She looked at the Nintendo Wii Fit, and decided that the video system suited her style.

Four activities of Wii Fit (photo courtesy of Amazon)

Four activities of Wii Fit (photo courtesy of Amazon)

The basic Wii Fit includes four categories – yoga, strength, aerobics, and balance. Janine’s favorites are the balance exercises, including slalom skiing, snowboarding, and “table tilt”, a labyrinth game played with the whole body.

Clocking 30 minutes every morning with her Wii, Janine stays motivated by entering stamps on the calendar for every day she works out, then keeps herself motivated to see how long she can keep an unbroken chain of days.

The initial cost of the Wii plus the Wii Fit (which includes the balance board and controller) is currently about $ 340 at Amazon.

If you like the core strength of Wii, but would like a teacher to go with it, consider The Bar Method.

4. Bar Method

Currently available in just a few states, I rely on Bar Method classes to build strength and maintain aerobic fitness. I have impressed my soccer- and softball-playing great-nieces with my pushups, and for getting rid of the shoulder hunch that comes from a day at the computer, Bar Method is excellent. Classes do include some stretching, especially some deep and effective hip flexor stretches.

(photo courtesy of Bar Method)

(photo courtesy of Bar Method)

I have described the 60-minute classes as “one hour of agony followed by 23 hours of feeling supremely virtuous.” Despite the quip about agony, I consider the classes to be very safe. I have known people who injured themselves in yoga and pilates classes. Though it is more strenuous than either, I have not yet encountered an injury at the Bar Method.

The Bar Method offers unlimited monthly classes for about $250 at most studios, ten class packages for about $210. Though it is the spendiest option of the four, I love the Bar Method for its ability to  produce big results for the time invested.

Do you get regular exercise? Is so, what’s your routine and why do you like it? If not, what’s your excuse? Have you, like me, neglected exercise recently? Are you ready to get back in the game?


6 comments so far

  1. Mimi Fleischman on

    Thanks so much for the Bar Method recommendation. I also want to add that Bar Method founder Burr Leonard writes an excellent blog with a lot of surprising and exciting information about fitness. You can find it at

  2. Dannah Lewis on

    Thank you so much Margaret for the great thoughts and feedback on The Bar Method. You are correct, class is more strenuous and intense than Pilates or yoga as well as safer and more efficient, here’s why…

    “Bar Method integrates the fat burning format of interval training, the muscle shaping technique of isometrics, the elongating principles of dance conditioning, and the science of physical therapy to create a revolutionary new workout that quickly and safely reshapes your entire body.”

    Our Founder’s philosophy is efficiency, effectiveness, and safety.

    Thanks again, really enjoyed the whole article, I’m a big walker (living in San Francisco).

    Dannah Lewis
    P.R. and Founder’s Assistant
    The Bar Method

  3. New Leaf News on

    Thank you, Dannah and Mimi, for checking in and adding to the conversation. I also should have mentioned that for those who don’t have a studio nearby, or those who find it too difficult to attend live classes, DVDs of the Bar Method are available through and at online retailers such as Amazon. Just one thought, though — the DVDs do not give a good indication of the intensity of a live class. Still, very effective!

  4. Janet Barclay on

    I love to walk, but it’s hard for me to get motivated when the weather is bad. I think a Wii Fit might be just what I need for winter and rainy days.

  5. […] Margaret Lukens shares Four no-excuses ways to exercise for better productivity. […]

  6. […] written before about ways to exercise when it seems hard to include exercise in your schedule. There’s another tool that I recently suggested to a client who wants to do a lot of exercise […]

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