There's no doubt we should all be exercising. And it has nothing to do with weight or how you look (although you'll ultimately lose weight and feel better inside and out) but it has everything to do getting your blood pumping. Your body craves oxygen so go ahead and break a sweat. But why do we torment ourselves with exercise we dread? Start by doing something, anything, that gets your heart beating and your face smiling. Play tag with your kids, dance, jump rope, dust off your old roller skates or bicycle and just go have some fun. Seriously, you don't have to torture yourself at the gym, especially if it means you'll go for 3 weeks and then take the rest of the year off. Do something that you'll look forward to. If you live in a warm climate (sigh), jump in the water. Swim, surf, stand up paddle, snorkel, whatever floats your boat. If you live where it's cold and rainy (sigh again), well you can, uh... well, um... alright, I can't lie. This one is a little harder. I have no desire to go out in the freezing cold rain let alone run in it. So guess what? I won't. Sorry, that's just me. There's not enough time in the day for me to dread what I do. Nonetheless, the heart must pump and the body must sweat even in the winter (and in the cold rainy spring). Get creative. My anniversary is next week and I'm hinting for a rebounder (mini trampoline). Besides the fact that it does wonders oxygenating your blood and getting your lymph fluid moving, have you ever seen someone look angry while jumping on a trampoline? I think not. They don't call it jumping for joy for nothing.
I do want to take a second to address those who deal with chronic pain. I understand. There are days when I can barely shift into reverse or walk up my stairs. The idea of getting my heart rate up seems daunting and the suggestion that I should exercise is annoying. Chronic pain creates such a crazy vicious cycle because the longer we do nothing the harder it is to do anything. So here's my two cents:
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for suggestions on what types of exercises you can or should be doing (and if all their suggestions are lame, ask for more).
- Give yourself some grace. It's hard enough to get moving when moving doesn't hurt. If you're doing anything to push your body just a little bit more each day, I commend you. Really, I do.
- Change your mindset. When I was going to physical therapy one of the PTs told me to stop thinking like an injured person who's trying to get better and start thinking like a recovering athlete. It was so simple but it really affected me. Somehow, it made me feel stronger. Know that you are still strong even though you are in pain. Know that every little step you take to improve your body inside and out is a step in the right direction. Celebrate that!