We all know exercise keeps us healthy. Whether that means joining a gym, taking a brisk walk, or swimming, here’s how to find an activity you’ll look forward to doing.
How many times have you promised yourself that first thing in the morning you’re going to start exercising? You even set the alarm an hour early. It goes off and you repeatedly hit the snooze button.
Not a morning person? You decide to walk after lunch for 30 minutes. Or you’ll take the dog for an extra long walk at night.
Lunchtime rolls around and you have a meeting, and after you come home from work, you let your dog run around the yard because you’re exhausted.
You’re not alone. We all make excuses. A report in Credit Donkey found that 80 percent of people who joined a gym quit within five months. It’s easy finding excuses not to exercise even though we know the health benefits that come from physical activity.
“That’s why we all need to find activities that match our personalities,” said Martin K. Miller, DHSC, National Academy of Sports Medicine master trainer, and director of fitness for the Mizner Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla. “Some people want to run outside. Others prefer being in a gym with a personal trainer that they’re accountable to.”
Miller emphasizes that exercise should be part of our day, and that we shouldn’t feel bad or guilty if we occasionally skip a day. “Exercise should be enjoyable, and our goals should be realistic,” he said.
He sees men who want to build muscles within a month and women who want to be a size 4. Bulking up and toning muscles takes time. And he’s honest (and kind) to the women who will never be a size 4 because of their body type. “We have to shift our goals so that they’re realistic,” he said. “And we have to make our health our number one priority.”
To find an exercise routine that you’ll want to do every day, ask yourself if you prefer being indoors or out? Do you want to work out alone or with a group? “A personal trainer can guide you and tailor an exercise program to suit your goals,” he said. “After all, we’re called personal trainers because we spend time talking to you to see what you like.”
If it’s running, jogging, swimming, walking, or lifting weights, Miller says it’s essential to pace yourself. This way you won’t experience burnout, and you’ll feel encouraged by the results. Don’t try to lift 50-pound weights on your first day of exercise. The same thing goes for running or walking. Start slow, and add more time and distance each day.
“When you study math for the first time, you don’t start at an eighth grade level,” he said. “It’s just like exercising. You’re not going to run a mile on your first day if you’ve never done that before. Pace yourself. You’ll eventually get to your goal.”
By not overdoing and finding an exercise that’s fun, you’ll keep on doing it. Pushing yourself when you’re not ready can hurt you. “The last thing you want is a sports injury,” he said.
Miller doesn’t buy the “no pain, no gain” phrase. “If fitness makes you hurt, you won’t continue to do it,” he said, “nor should you. And if you miss a day, you can get exercise in other ways.”
Miller suggests parking at the further end of the parking lot when you go shopping, walk on a treadmill when you watch TV, or turn on the radio and dance. You’ll be surprised at how your energy picks up and your mood brightens when you partake in an activity that’s fun.
May 24, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN