The Results You Can Expect From 40 Minutes of Exercise A Day

Auriane Alix
Without changing anything else in your life.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I’ve been exercising every day for one year now, with few exceptions. This is a major change for me. Before that, I spent 6 years in Paris where exercising indoors is expensive and exercising outdoors, in crowded and polluted streets, is unthinkable.

Changes often have to mature before they happen. As an almost hyperactive person, this problem kept turning in my mind without me finding a lasting solution.

One day I downloaded the Nike Training Club app. I started working out 3 times a week for 20 minutes on the carpet stuck between my bed and my wardrobe in my small Parisian flat.

Honestly, I didn’t think it would work. I had already tried it, and I’d been sticking to it for 10 days at best.

To my surprise, the 20-minute sessions increased to 30. Under lockdown, the 3 times a week rhythm turned into 40 minutes almost every day. Since we were released, I’ve been feeling like turning to outdoor activities such as running or surfing. Sometimes, I just go for a long walk.

For a year now, exercise has been part of my daily routine. In case you’re hesitating to take a similar trip, I’ve summarized my little experience here. Here are the results you can expect from 40 minutes of moderate exercise a day, without having to change your whole lifestyle or diet.

Give your mind time to mature this desire to move more. Find what suits you. Start slowly. Watch the process build. And welcome the results.

You’ll become addicted

I trapped myself. Now, if I go a day without moving, I don’t feel well. My legs are restless. I am tense. I find it hard to focus on my work. Something is sorely missing.

I’ve become addicted to the feeling of well-being and the pleasant physical fatigue that comes after every training session. Sometimes it’s even my primary motivation to cross the threshold. This anticipation.

If you stick to it long enough, exercise will quickly become your moment of well-being all to yourself. Your secret for a pleasant and balanced day.

It also means that you’ll have to find ways to exercise even when you’re far from home. But trust me, you will find a way.

It will become medicine for your mind

Whenever I feel angry, tense, distracted, lost in brain fog, anxious or sad, I jump into my shorts and training shoes and go running. It. Always. Work. It has never failed me. Moving my body seems to move my brain in the process, rearranging it in a whole new way and giving me a whole new day.

Exercise will become your special remedy for almost everything, including feeling lethargic and lacking energy.

You’ll be surprised by yourself

Last week I went out for a 40-minute jog. I had decided to go to the park near my parents’ house, a nice green 1.3 km loop. It was late afternoon and I saw the sunset giving way to total darkness. The first 20 minutes were a bit difficult as always — I’ll come back to that later.

Suddenly, to my great surprise, all the difficulty disappeared. I felt like running was my new way of walking. I was in a state of flow. I eagerly went over the 40-minute mark, then the 1-hour mark, and reluctantly stopped the clock at 1:10 because my parents were waiting for me for dinner. It was the longest and best run I ever completed.

You’ll be surprised by your own body. Its capacity. And sometimes you’ll be surprised oppositely: you expected your session to be long and intense, and you end up stopping at 20 minutes because you can’t take any more.

Daily exercise strengthens your relationship with your body and teaches you to accept its fluctuations, whether positive or negative.

Recurring patterns will emerge

I have two main patterns:

  • I know when it is high time to move: my mind becomes foggy and my body restless.
  • The other one is the 20-minute rule. Whatever the activity, the first 20 minutes are always the most difficult. It always feels like I’ll barely manage to reach my goal. But once those 20 minutes are over, everything seems easier.

These patterns will guide you in your practice. Once again, daily exercise strengthens your relationship with your body, you get to know it and listen to it.

Your resistance to effort will increase

Do you know why I hated exercising? Because I couldn’t find any mental strength to resist the pain, and I would stop as soon as it started to be difficult. This confronted me with my own weakness.

When you start slowly, with light sessions, and increase over time, your resistance to effort and pain also increases, and you end up being much more resistant than before. This has had repercussions on my life in general. I have discovered that I am much stronger and more resistant to effort, such as at work or in uncomfortable situations.

What was the core of the session will soon become your warm-up.

Your relationship with food could improve

I think too much (constantly?) about what I eat. I feel guilty every time I eat too much. I used to count my calories — and to be honest, I still do sometimes.

But daily exercise lightens the burden. I know that even if I eat too much that day — because eating is one of the major sources of joy in my life — I know that I’m going to get rid of some of those extra calories.

Another point about food: your appetite may well increase. It’s okay and it’s normal. You are asking more of your body. It builds more muscles, which require more calories to maintain. Just listen to the signals your body sends your way.

You’ll see a slightly more toned you in the mirror

40 minutes of moderate exercise a day is not enough to completely change your silhouette. It depends on each individual and the lifestyle you currently lead.

As far as I’m concerned, I eat healthily overall every day, but I regularly treat myself to cake and cheat meals. As the year has gone by, I have probably seen my body tone up a bit, and I’ve lost some weight. But I haven’t turned into a fitness machine, and probably you won’t either. Seeing noticeable and lasting results often requires more intensity and a flawless lifestyle.

Losing weight and transforming your body should not be your primary motivation for implementing exercise in your daily life. There are far more motivating reasons to do so.

You’ll fall into a virtuous circle

Implementing healthy habits in one’s life leads to a virtuous circle. After a sports session, I feel like eating healthy. The more I exercise, the more I want to take care of my body.

I don’t even have to force myself. It’s a process that happens naturally. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy a good burger and fries once in a while.

Exercise will naturally become part of your schedule

What’s planned gets done. If it is necessary at the beginning, plan your daily sports session in your diary. But as time goes by, you’ll see that it will naturally creep into your days.

My favorite times are before lunch, as it allows my brain to relax after a morning of intense and focused work. Or at the end of my working day, which has the benefit of draining all the negative energies of the day and freeing my body that has been sitting around all day.

You will know that your daily session has become a natural part of your day when you start looking forward to it.

It will bring balance and structure to your life

Contrary to what one might think, structure is one of the keys to human well-being. Too much freedom does not bring anything positive. Having this daily rendezvous with yourself may seem like a burden, or another task on the already too long list of things to do, but in reality, it simply brings structure to your life.

And balance. Because you will feel much better about yourself, about your body, about your health.

You’ll feel like another person

But in the good sense of the word.

You will soon feel more toned. Soreness will be welcome, it will remind you of the presence of your muscles. You will probably lose some weight. You will feel more positive about your body. You will have more energy and strength.

You will feel calm, focused, and in control of your emotions. Exercising every day, even moderately, transforms your life and the person you are, in a positive way.

​“In two weeks, you’ll feel it. In four weeks, you’ll see it. In eight weeks, you’ll hear it.” — Unknown

I couldn’t recommend you more to take the plunge. I couldn’t go back myself. I can’t even understand how I managed to stay for 6 years without barely moving.

Give your mind time to mature this desire to move more. Find what suits you. Start slowly. Watch the process build. And welcome the results.

Comments / 1

Published by

Trying to grasp and capture the essence of things in words.


More from Auriane Alix

Comments / 0