I already covered the health-related benefits of exercise in part one, in this post I’ll examine some other motivations for exercising, at any age. I’ll also challenge some of the reasons, or dare-I say it ‘excuses’, I sometimes hear for not taking enough exercise.
At least two of the exercises I currently engage in help me to relax:
– taking a lunchtime walk – I try my best to do this 1-3 times a week depending on workload, lunchtime meetings (the bane of my life) and weather. My preference is to go alone and listen to audiobooks for pure escapism, but I’m also happy to walk and talk with like-minded friends once in a while. Being outside, and preferably in nature, has a grounding effect on me. I try and do this all year round – wrapping up warm in winter and stripping off to benefit from vitamin D when the sun shines. My comfy trainers live under my desk?
– Yoga – my current guilty pleasure is escaping to a lunchtime yoga class (on average once a fortnight). The yoga itself is great, but the relaxation at the end is bliss. I’m always surprised that I don’t completely fall asleep, so relaxed is the state I find myself in.
Whilst I frequently exercise alone through preference (for time efficiency and flexibility more than anything else) I also appreciate the more social aspects of exercise. Accompanying others to an exercise class, chatting on a walk or run, buddying up with someone in the gym and engaging in friendly banter and competition are all ways of helping us to enjoy exercise (and potentially motivate and help us to stay committed). I confess that I have enjoyed the social aspects of some endeavours far more than the activities themselves e.g. scuba diving and mixed hockey.
If you don’t already know, these are feel good hormones that kick in during or after exercise – and they are addictive! If you exercise regularly you’ll know exactly what I mean, and you may even crave them if you miss out on training. If you don’t believe you’ve ever enjoyed them, then try and find something which allows them to kick-in, and this may help to motivate you in future.
I like to set myself goals to give me something to aim for. My current challenge is to beat my PB (personal best) in an upcoming triathlon and this aim certainly gets me out of bed in the morning to train. Challenges don’t have to be linked to a competition or event, they could be more personal e.g. reduce blood pressure to a less risky level or lose Xlb to fit into ‘those trousers’.
I am certainly not Wonder Woman in all I do: I consider myself more of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. However, by measuring and monitoring performance in different ways, it is possible to track our progress and improve over time. This could be the number of miles walked or ran, time taken to complete a certain route, less muscle ache, quicker recovery, greater flexibility etc. My local sports centre currently has a marketing campaign encouraging people to ‘raise the bar’ to try and motivate the clientele. Tracking my progress against each triathlon discipline is useful for motivating me, as well as helping me to improve in each area.
I have regular slots where I exercise, many being at the same each week. The more you do something, the more it becomes a habit and less you’ll have to work to just get going. I’ll be covering this in greater depth in a future article ‘Mind – the power of habits’.
Making it happen
My life is generally very busy, and I manage to squeeze in a fair amount of exercise. I hear various reasons why people don’t take regular exercise and this saddens me deeply, so I have drafted some challenges.
“I have no time” – we each get 24 hours in a day. If you can’t find dedicated time in your day or week to ‘work out’, at least try and build some exercise into your lifestyle, so you can still reap some of the benefits. Also consider alternative methods e.g. working out at home e.g. exercise DVD, walking from house, exercising whilst watching TV etc.
“It’s not a priority” – ditto above. Whilst taking exercise per se may not appear to be a priority now, weighing this up against how sick or immobile you could become if you don’t take action while you still can, could prompt you to look at things differently.
“I don’t enjoy it! – my belief is that you’ve not yet found the right type of exercise for you. I challenge you to try and find something that you do enjoy, which will make everything much easier on this front and you’re more likely to stick with it. On a similar vein, maybe you could revisit childhood memories to find something you love? A friend of mine has done 3 times recently, with some pleasingly unexpected results. If you need any ideas or inspiration, let me know!
“I’ve tried before and it never works for me” – Again, maybe you’ve just not found the right type yet…and just paying for gym membership without going doesn’t count.
A lot of people also expect a “get fit quick” result from exercise, so when they don’t instantly get a six-pack, or lose half a stone or whatever they throw in the towel. It’s probably worth pointing out that it takes consistent effort over time to see the benefits and that they sneak up on you almost imperceptibly a lot of the time.
“I have no resources or money” – many forms of exercise don’t require fancy clothes or expensive equipment for you to reap the benefits. Going for a walk – nothing. Weight training with store-cupboard items – nothing. Exercise DVDs – there are some good ones available on the second-hand market for next to nothing – if you need some recommendations, please let me know! For some sports, I’d recommend some quality trainers and a sports bra (for women) but don’t confuse quality with branded. These don’t need to cost you an arm and a leg, so don’t let that put you off. Incidentally, I believe that any money you do spend is actually an investment for your future – hopefully less medical prescriptions, hospital bills etc.
My further challenge to you is “how could you use exercise to actually save you money?” e.g. walking or cycling instead of fuel and parking costs, exercising to reduce insurance premiums etc.
“I’m too tired” – this could be symptomatic of not getting enough sleep, not eating the right things or ironically not getting enough exercise. You could also try exercising at different times of the day. When I was younger I often exercised during the day or after work, but I far prefer working out in the mornings now, if I can. A. it energises me and I find it’s a great way to start the day B. my energy levels are higher in the morning, whether I exercise before or after breakfast C. it gets it out the way, so no time for excuses later?
“I don’t want anyone looking at me” – Another barrier that I’ve come across is fear of failure/looking silly/being intimidated by group exercise and gyms. Whilst there are some posers around, the majority of people are not and many are lost in their own world. If you find something that you enjoy doing, then hopefully you will care less about what others think. See also the points on exercising at home (in private) or with a group of people you know and like.
So, are you getting enough exercise? If so, congratulations – I’ll see you at the finish line, so to speak! If not, what one thing will you plan to do to take you a step closer?
As I mentioned before, I’m training to be a life coach, helping people achieve their goals. If exercise is an area that challenges you, maybe, some coaching in this area would be beneficial. I’d be happy to help, or help you find a coach local to you.
Thank you for reading. For more interesting articles, visit my blog at www.agelifebalance.com to learn more.