Exercise My Way

I have never been very fond of exercise. I hated high school gym, which essentially amounted to stretching, running in circles, and attempting to throw a ball for whichever sport happened to be in season. I was gleeful that the second year of required PE (Physical Education) would be waived for any student involved with a high school sport. Gleeful because for some reason they counted the marching band, in which I was a reluctant participant, as a sport. Finally a silver lining to having to wear those terrible uniforms!

So anyway, I’ve done what I can to avoid physical exercise for most of my life. But somewhere around age 25, I started noticing that my metabolism was slowing down, I would get winded walking up one flight of stairs, and I was having a hard time running around with the little kids who were a part of my life. Vanity and quality of life were compelling enough reasons for me to want to make a change.

So I tried running. It’s the cheapest and, from what I’ve heard, the best and fastest way to shed pounds and achieve heart health. You need to work up to it, though, if the impact is too hard on your knees or ankles, because the muscles and ligaments are not strong enough yet to endure prolonged pounding of the pavement.

The problem was, I didn’t want to work up to it. I hated running and everything about it, and since I hated it that much, I could talk myself out of it often enough that it made no lasting impact. So I stopped making any effort at all.

At some point a friend invited me to come to her gym—she could bring a guest for free. I tried out a bunch of different exercise machines there, and I fell in love with the elliptical! No impact from pounding the pavement, a smooth circular motion which was more comfortable for my hips, I could exercise consistently for a much longer time and keep my heart rate up, and I always felt much less stressed afterward, like I’d worked out some of my pent-up tension and anxiety. Plus it was in an air-conditioned room! I had finally found a form of exercise I looked forward to. I know that there are drawbacks to the elliptical. But I love it, and I’d rather do a less-than-perfect exercise routine I love a few times a week than rarely accomplish a perfect exercise routine I hate. And so that’s what I do.

If you also are not a huge fan of exercise but feel it’s time to pick it up, then I encourage you to find the style that’s right for you: one that you look forward to, rather than one you’re dragging yourself to. Perhaps some experimentation would help you find exercise you enjoy. Maybe go out dancing. Or walk to work. Or go on long, leisurely bike rides. Or play basketball with some friends. Or go hiking, or walk the mall, or swim laps at a pool.

May you find ways to honor and nurture your whole being: body, heart, mind, and soul.