Why do people shy away from exercise?
Maybe they have PTSD from having been forced to do all kinds of strenuous and unpleasant things in PhysEd class in junior high school. Maybe some impersonal gym teacher made them run until their lungs were on fire. That’s worse, they showed up all sweaty afterwards to history class because there was no hot water in the gym showers. Or maybe they hated the forced marches and the constant “drop down, get ten” from military basic training. Or, like so many others of the cyber generation, they feel much happier gripping a game-boy joystick than gripping a lacrosse stick or baseball bat. What’s more, regularly-scheduled exercise requires self-regiment (ugh – get outa here!). Or, maybe they did try exercise and they hurt themselves, or they went to the gym and felt self-conscious. People have more excuses to avoid exercise than pigeons in the park…
That’s a shame, because nothing makes you feel so vibrant as the post-exercise feeling of accomplishment and the exhilaration of endorphin, the feel-good hormone triggered by exercise, which is the world’s best natural anti-depressant. My nickname for endorphin is “natural gusto.” Let’s go for it…
Here’s how I crack my clients’ exercise phobia – I teach them how to exercise creatively. The principle of creative exercise is simply to create an activity that you love, where you can move your body in the process. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s formula. Do what makes you feel good. Here are a few examples:
- Walking along the beach, in sand, or up the sand dunes: this is a cardiovascular exercise that equals or even surpasses wind sprints because of the effort your lungs and legs have to exert to move forward in the sand, especially where there’s incline. The waves and the sea air are so invigorating that one totally forgets the he or she is exercising.
- Walk in the park, along the riverbank, out in the pasture, in the woods or in your favorite environment. Relish G-d’s gifts in nature while you’re doing it; enjoy the trees, the plants, the birds, the flowers and the animals. Listen to the melody of a babbling brook – you’ll love it.
- While you’re alone with nature, commune with your Creator. This adds pleasure to soul as well as to body.
- Mark your periodic time slot of creative exercise in your calendar, just as you would an important meeting.
- Treat yourself to good exercise gear – comfortable shoes and garb that you wear especially for your creative exercise session.
- Try to do an minimum of 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
- If you love company, exercise with you spouse or a best buddy.
You get the idea – now use your imagination. Maybe you’ll get your bike or your roller skates out from under the pile of junk in the garage. The key is to do something enjoyable; don’t let it become a dread or routine.
Once you get used to exercising, and you begin to feel great and look your best, you won’t know how you ever lived without exercising. Go for it! Start slow, and enjoy it, just like you enjoy a favorite meal. The difference between the exercise and the meal is that the former burns calories and doesn’t cost you a cent. There is a life of fitness outside the gyms. G-d bless for good health, LB