OK, I get it. You don't like exercise. It's uncomfortable, you sweat and you're usually sore the next day. As I write about different areas of fitness, the workout category is the least popular. :) Is this because it takes effort? Yes. Is it because present day humans have all the comforts of living and have fallen into patterns on non-movement? Yes. What if I told you it's easy once your body adapts? What if I told you your body will actually WANT the next workout? What if I gave you the treasure map and all you have to do is have courage and follow it? You have to find your motivation and I think I can help starting with changing your mindset regarding the word: exercise.
If you've ever watched a child play, especially one under the age of 6, their movements are guided by sensory feelings and curiosity. If it feels good to jump, run or roll on the ground that's what they do. As they experiment with gross motor skills, they try new things, fall down but keep trying until they succeed. As an adult we can learn from this basic way of movement without the falling down part!
Depending where you are in your fitness level and your medical history, there are ways to exercise that will feel good to your body. Here are some ideas for wherever your fitness level may fall.
Beginning: yoga, stretching, swimming, low impact aerobics, walking, light weights
Intermediate: Jogging, interval training, masters swim, indoor cycle class, free weights, HIIT
Advanced: running, HIIT, weight lifting/power lifting, competition
Think PLAY. At my house there are pieces of exercise equipment strewn about and the one my youngest son constantly plays with is the physio ball. He uses it as a seat, bounces on it, flips over it, tries to kneel and stand on it, you name it and he's tried it. If there is one piece of exercise equipment I'd recommend for your house this ball is it. It's versatile and a total body workout can be done with one piece of equipment. It's a ball. Who doesn't like balls? I pick it up, it's bouncy and already it's fun.
Ride a bike
Get in the pool with the kids
My family laughs at me when I say I play at the gym. But I do. Some days I have a workout planned but some days I go off how I feel. I start with one thing and see where I feel like going next. Two reasons this is good for me. The rest of my life is so planned out with every moment accounted for it's nice to not have a schedule. The second reason is I don't have to think, I feel. I get out of my head and into my body. As massage therapists you know what I'm talking about. We want our clients to relax enough on the table to get out of the mental rat race of work and into how their body feels. Some of my best workouts have come from the no plan, guided by feeling space I allow myself. When you look around the gym and see infinite possibilities to play instead of "Ugg, I've got to get through the next 30 minutes" it's liberating.
Our bodies are AMAZING and brilliant at adapting to whatever we ask of them. As a massage therapist or bodyworker you've seen compensation patterns when people have pain. Just as our bodies adapt in compensating patterns they can also adapt into highly fit athletic bodies. Anyone can run a marathon. I can't make someone enjoy running but I can train any body to complete the 26.2 miles. That's because our body will adapt and change with the gradual increase of activity. Need a stronger upper body? Lift weights and your arms will be stronger. Want to do a pull up? You can! It takes consistently taxing the muscles and they will grow stronger. The more fit you become the more your body LIKES movement and dare I say, craves it. How cool is that?!
Find your why. Why are you going to exercise or play more? Most people can stand to feel better in some way. Maybe it's low energy, maybe chronic low back pain, maybe cholesterol levels are too high. Exercise will make your body feel better. Too many people focus on weight loss and as a personal trainer for years I know this is the worst long-term motivator there is. When you find a better motivator than what the scale says you will stick with your exercise program longer and hopefully make it a way of life.
Bonus feel good benefit: Have you ever felt the exercise high? Your body will release endorphins while exercising and it makes you feel great! Runners are known for feeling this but you can get the euphoric feeling after a good gym session. It takes a combination of some cardiovascular exercise within your workout. Get your heart rate up and break a sweat. You will leave the gym feeling good and like your time was well spent.
If you have negative feelings when you hear the word exercise, stop using that word. Write play into your schedule for workout time. Play has a much better all around connotation associated with it. Everyone likes to play!
Whether you have a love, hate or "only do it because you have to" view regarding exercise, I hope after reading this you have at least one new thing to try. Get the help of a personal trainer or a friend who's more experienced. One of the best motivators is finding a group you enjoy and train with them. Pick a 5k fun run (you can walk too) and sign up. That gives you a date to be ready by and instant motivation to complete each workout so you'll be ready on race day. They are festive and fun. Some people pick the races by the medal given out and build a nice collection to display.
Until next time
Be fit, be strong and play, play, play
Come hang with us, where we are happy and massaging pain-free.
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