How to Love Exercise: Sara Williams

One comment I often get from friends and family members when talking about exercise, fitness, and health is that they hate exercising. It’s too time consuming, too hard, boring, and just plain unenjoyable. However, with chronic conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes skyrocketing in the United States, it is more apparent than ever that there is no shortcut to long term health and wellness – and regular exercise is on the “To-Do List”. The good news is that exercise CAN and SHOULD be enjoyable!

When people think ‘exercise’ they might think of 100 burpees at CrossFit, HIIT workouts until you are physically ill, or going to your local box gym and hitting a few machines. All of these are exercise, yes. But if these activities don’t make you want to get up and go crush it, then guess what? You don’t have to do them. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy! Tennis, dance classes, roller blading, swimming, and boxing are all great forms of exercise that you can accomplish without even realizing that you just completed a workout. Bring a friend for added fun! If you are someone that has specific goals that you want to accomplish, look into hiring a degreed professional to help you create a workout program that is optimal for you and progresses over time. Let this person know what you enjoy doing and what you don’t enjoy. Together you can come up with ways to make your workout enjoyable and effective!

Motivation to workout, like anything in life, comes and goes. This is why it is important to have a strong reason why you are wanting to exercise. For many of my clients, their ‘why’ would be to maintain their ability to run around with their grandchildren, to get up out of a chair independently as they age, or to look hot in a swimsuit. Whatever your ‘why’ is, make it something you truly care about. Write it down and remind yourself of it often. You can also write down what would happen if you didn’t exercise regularly, and use that as motivation even when you don’t feel like working out. In addition to writing down your ‘why’, set realistic short and long-term goals, and make an action plan. How are you going to achieve these goals? Putting this somewhere that you see daily will help hold you accountable.

While making those short and long-term goals, keep in mind that they should be realistic to you and what you can currently accomplish in your life. If you haven’t been active in 3 years, start by adding a brisk walk before or after work 2x/wk and playing a friendly game of tennis with your friends on the weekends. As you create successful habits, you will build momentum that will allow you to continue to make healthy choices for your life. It is important to note that you do NOT have to feel like you’re dying after every workout for it to be effective. In fact, getting physically ill, or becoming dizzy or lightheaded most likely means you are pushing yourself too hard and should reduce the intensity of the exercise. A good goal for exercise (and what is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine) would be to achieve 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (brisk walking is considered moderately intense) and some sort of resistance training 2x/wk (most activities include some sort of resistance, even if it is your own body weight.)

Exercise and the ability to move are gifts and should be celebrated. Working out is not something you HAVE to do, it’s something you GET to do! Your body works hard for you. Show it some extra love by moving a little more and see how it benefits you.

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