Making time for exercise

Finding beauty in where I exercise is one way to keep myself interested.

I know there are people out there that take pleasure in the act of exercising, but I’m not one of them. I like the results, I feel better after I’m done, but when I exercise with no other reason than my health and knowing that I should, it’s not the most fun thing I’ve ever done. My mom had similar feelings about exercise. She knew it was a cornerstone to her health, but she didn’t love doing it. For her, when she was tired or busy, exercise was the easiest thing to push back. I think for many of us, exercise feels like a chore, rather than a genuine pleasure but there are ways to improve your experience.

1. Find something you enjoy.

My mom was a fan of low impact activities. For a while she did restorative yoga. She had her walking women, with whom she would walk with in the morning a few days a week. She encouraged her patients to find something they enjoyed that was easy on their body: yoga, swimming, walking, pilates. Anything that had a lower chance of injury or a significant recovery time. For me, I consistently go back to rollerblading. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world and while I have young kids, being able to push one in our ancient jogging stroller gives me something to hang on to if I should happen to lose my balance.

2. Find a way to keep from getting bored

This is a big one for me when I exercise at a gym. I’m looking at the same view, often the same people, doing something repetitive. Exercising on a treadmill or doing the same thing over and over again is why gym memberships aren’t usually a motivator to get me to get moving. Instead, the money I spend is silently guilt-tripping me as I sit at home thinking I should go exercise. Being active outdoors, listening to music, or changing up my activity usually does the trick for me.

Pushing our ancient jogging stroller with my three year old in it makes the effort more difficult, but adds stability while rollerblading.

3. Find a way to stay accountable

Involve others in your commitment to getting healthy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an exercise partner, although that would keep you from being bored while exercising, you could check in with a group online, have a friendly competition, or check in with someone at the end of the day.

Late summer wildflowers offer an ever-changing landscape so there is always something new and interesting to see.

4. Exercise doesn’t have to be about weight loss.

In fact, thinking about exercise as a number on a scale is an easy way to set yourself up to be discouraged. My weight fluctuates throughout the month and even changes depending on what time of day I step on the scale. I didn’t own one for a long time and it can be easier that way, not such a slave to a number. We all know about the health benefits: better sleep, more energy, improves mood, combats various health conditions, improves sex life, controls weight. I put that last on purpose, because there are so many other reasons to exercise in addition to weight control.

There is beauty everywhere in nature.

5. Once you start, it’s easier to keep going.

For me, the first couple days are the hardest to motivate myself and once I’m on day three or four, there is a little bit of muscle memory that gets me out of the house and moving. I’m over the initial soreness, I’ve noticed my mood is generally better, and my sleep is more sound. Even today, a late summer heatwave wasn’t enough to keep me home and that’s saying something, because exercising in the heat is one of my least favorite things to do.

I took this picture in the midst of one of our hottest heatwaves of the summer. If I hadn't had to rollerblade back to my car completely wet, I would have stopped for a dip in the creek.

6. If you do stop, don’t beat yourself up about it.

It’s like falling of a horse, you have to get back up and keep going. My goal in the warm months here in Ohio is to exercise in the morning, before the oppressive heat of the day kicks in. There are frequently reasons why this doesn’t happen: procrastination, kids, other obligations and when it doesn’t, I try not to let that be the reason I stay home.

In a month this landscape will be all reds and oranges.

7. Make it manageable.

I have friends who post on Facebook about running frequent marathons, triathlons, even one who is training for an Iron Man. That works for them, but I really don’t understand the enjoyment people get from that much running. I’ve found that I can regularly carve out 30 to 40 minutes three times a week for my rollerblading and adding in our family activities on the weekend rounds out my fitness schedule. If once you start, you find you want to increase your exercise and start training for an accomplishment such as that, more power to you. I may not understand that kind of thinking, but that’s just me.

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