Monday, April 28, 2014
I came across an interesting thread today. Someone wanted to know if "serious" exercise could also be "fun". It started me thinking about my own views and attitudes about exercise. It has undergone quite an evolution since I joined Spark People about 5 years ago.
Initially my enjoyment of exercise was on par with a visit to the dentist. It was always a struggle to get in even 3 days/week. I joined a gym and for the first 2-3 years I literally threw my money away by going so infrequently, although when I did go I put in a good effort and felt great afterwards. As time went by I would try adding different modalities to establish a more varied routine. Things like yoga, zumba, boot camps, pilates expanded by exercise portfolio and added the missing element of learning new things and having fun. I also started to walk outdoors while listening to music or podcasts on my mp3 player.
At times my motivation flags and participation drops off. Right now I'm in such a cycle but I'm hopeful it will not last long (it usually does not). At the gym I try to make use of a variety of equipment. Some are easier and more enjoyable than others so at times I burn more calories than at others, but I feel the most important thing is being there and doing something intentional.
On nice days I enjoy walking early in the morning. It helps wake me up and clear away all the cobwebs, preparing me to take on the day. Trying out new equipment/classes adds excitement and more tools to my fitness arsenal. Even if the exercise itself is not "fun", the sense of achievement afterwards is a real boost!
I've also determined that the difference between "serious" and "fun" is a matter of duration and intensity. I used to make the mistake of thinking that only intense exercise was valuable. I think I picked that up from all the sweating, grunting and groaning that was going on around me at the gym. That was a mistake which only led to soreness, fatigue and discouragement. I figured out that I had to tailor my routines to my available time and energy level. When I have more time, I do more and work harder; when time is tight or I'm not feeling too peppy I cut back a bit. The important thing is to do something intentional consistently.
The last thing I learned is to have other fun things in my life besides exercise or provide fun things as a reward for reaching exercise goals.
So, although I would not call exercise "fun" it can be enjoyable. Variety and rewards help keep motivation high. Tracking gives a tangible sense of accomplishment. The impact of exercise on stress and mood cannot be denied. I also remind myself to be thankful that I can move and use my body when there are many people bound to beds or wheelchairs.
My attitude towards exercise has evolved and continues to evolve. It is an important part, but only a part, of a total healthy lifestyle package. I try to keep it in balance with everything else.
Thank for taking the time to read this blog.
Blessings to you