Knowing Your Approach to Exercise and Reaping the Benefits
When Janet went for her run three times per week, she had a favorite route that would take her past her favorite sights. She loved the flower garden at the Thomas’s house and she always enjoyed taking the path around the pond that was located just past the park. Not too far past the park she would often see Mr. Roberts working in his yard and exchange a friendly wave as she ran past his house. When she went for her run during the spring and summer time, she would slow way down when she approached the Greene’s house to breathe in the scent of honeysuckle that was growing around their house. She also knew the Tates, and it wasn’t unusual for Julie and Scottie who were two of the younger kids in the family, to see Janet running and playfully run along side of her for a couple hundred yards. As Janet would finish her run, she would slow down and walk the last 100 yards to let her heart rate get back to normal and then would stretch for a few minutes so that her muscles would relax and not tighten up after her run. Janet loved taking in all the sights and events that she would encounter as she ran, and she always felt good at the finish of her run.
Steve had his run perfectly planned out. He knew his exact route and purposefully had a mileage and exact pace in mind that he thought would help him improve his aerobic ability. What did Steve see when he ran? Not a lot. He was focused on running. If he were running five miles, he would look for a couple of markers, which included the corner of White and Thunder Street, and the market on Boomer Ave. These markers told him the exact distance he was at during his run and he knew exactly how much time should have elapsed when he passed these places in order to keep his pace on target. Steve was constantly monitoring his breathing, and focusing on keeping his stride and his legs relaxed as he ran. Sometimes Steve’s runs would leave him quite tired. He didn’t care about this and was willing to be tired out if it lead to improving his performance.
Alice loved yard work. It didn’t matter if it was picking weeds, trimming bushes, planting flowers, raking or hoeing, she just liked to be out working in her yard. She could tell the difference in the way she felt when she would do yard work regularly, and when she didn’t. She slept better, felt more relaxed and found it easier to control her weight when regularly doing yard work. Alice wasn’t really into doing an exercise session, but she knew the value of exercise as working outside made her feel better, but she liked the idea of exercise that did more than just help her physically. Her exercise was good for her body, but it also made her yard look better and that was the most satisfying part to her.
Jason had an exercise group that he met with every Monday and Thursday evening. His group included three other friends that liked getting together to exercise. Their exercise consisted of either running, lifting weights, playing basketball, or a combination of those activities. Since they were friends, they would also occasionally get together to go fishing, boating, or take in a ball game together. These guys often talked about issues that were going on at work, and would get each other’s input when it came to raising their kids. On the few occasions when Jason’s friends were out of town, he didn’t bother to workout. He preferred the camaraderie of his friends, or it wasn’t worth it to him to exercise.
At this point we have discussed four people which consist of Janet, Steve, Alice and Jason. All of them enjoyed exercise but had a very different approach to it. Some people just want to enjoy the exercise and to see the world while they exercise. Other people have a performance mentality and want to get better or be competitive. Then there are people who want to accomplish a meaningful task as they exercise and others who enjoy getting together with friends as the main reason they exercise. Whatever the reason you have for exercise, it will help you to consider what motivates you to exercise and to put yourself in a setting that motivates you so that you will be consistent.
Regardless of the reason, if you are concerned about your fitness, make sure that the outcome of your exercise is physically positive. In other words, if a joint, or a muscle is constantly sore from what you are doing, consider adjusting how you are doing it so that your exercise helps you to improve physically rather than to cause physical problems. Exercise should improve your aerobic capacity or endurance, contribute to strengthening and toning your muscles, help you easily move within the range of motion required by daily tasks, and should help you control your body weight. If your exercise is working contrary to any of these things, evaluate how you can change it to work for you rather than against you. If your exercise is helping you physically as it should be doing, it will increase the quality of your life. Let this be your goal and keep exercising.
Sooner or later, the majority of people reach a moment in life where they feel they are out of shape and know they would be better off if they improved their fitness level. Some will consider various options of how they can improve their physical condition and quickly dismiss pursuing an exercise program as they picture too much effort, too much sweat, too much pain, and too much time in regard to an exercise program. Others start out more determined only to find that it takes more effort, more sweat, more pain, more time, and sometimes more many than they want to spend. The end result is that they may stick with an exercise program for a while, but in the end they end up quitting. Is there a better way? Hopefully yes.
Exercise doesn’t have to programmed, regimented and structured unless you want it to be. I understand that not everyone is like me. Personally, I love going to a gym and working out. I enjoy the effort, I enjoy the sweat, and I enjoy the pain. The only part I don’t enjoy is spending money on the health club membership fee. A very regimented, goal oriented workout is the kind I enjoy in the weight room. On the other hand, running is a different story. I like to run some, but I do it without strict regimentation. If I skip a running workout, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t time my runs, I just run at whatever pace I feel like, as I know that running is going to help stay in some degree of aerobic shape. The truth is, I would rather play basketball, so I often play basketball instead of running and call it aerobic conditioning. You may not like a gym, or running, or basketball, but there may be some physical activity that they like. If you have a specific fitness goal and need to really blast some weight off in a hurry, then you may need a strict, regimented workouts. However, if this is not the case, who cares what kind of physical activity you engage in as long as it improves your physical condition.
Ask yourself, “What kind of physical activity do I enjoy.” If there are no forms of physical activity that you enjoy, you may have to be a little creative or your risk of quitting will increase. It’s easy to overlook the exercise possibilities that you may enjoy. Maybe you hate walking as a form of exercise, but walking suddenly becomes more fun if you are walking the dog, or going for a walk with your friend. If you don’t naturally like exercise but are socially outgoing, find a friend to do a physical activity with and don’t think of exercise as exercise, but as spending time with someone you enjoy. Maybe walking is more fun at the beach, or in a park, or in a shopping mall, or someplace else that you love going. What about dancing, gardening, skating, swimming, riding your bike, or playing a Wii sport that requires a lot of moving. Maybe you like music or watching TV or movies, or praying, or worshiping God. Why not do it while you are exercising? Maybe there is a sport that you like and you just need the right setting where people aren’t in it for blood and just want to play and have fun. Look into it as it may be available. Only you know what you enjoy, and a little creative thinking might make a long term fitness much easier to stick with.
To stick with a regular exercise program, you may need to find a way to enjoy it. The down side of this is that if you schedule it and have to do it a certain amount of times per week, you may resist it, and something that is enjoyable on a less frequent basis can become less enjoyable when you make yourself do it on a more frequent basis, so some degree of self-discipline may still be necessary. But if you have tried to start exercise programs and eventually end up quitting, just remember that integrating exercise with something that you enjoy in life may be one of the keys to sticking with it.