Moving around doesn’t seem like it should be a hot button issue, but it’s surprisingly polarizing. People, especially on the internet, seem to be either so into exercising that it consumes their entire being (#FitFam #ExerciseAddict #CrossfitAllDayEverydayLiterallyLikeIShouldProbablyBePostingAboutItAgainAsSoonAsIFinishThisHashtag) or so against it that they will attempt to avoid it even at the risk of their own personal safety. I was one of the latter.
It’s easy to think of excuses not to exercise. It’s too expensive, it’s too hot outside, it’s too cold outside, it’s embarrassing, it takes too long, it’s boring, it’s difficult, the dog ate my workout plan, I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car… The list goes on and on. Not only are none of those actual reasons to skip exercising, but there are as many reasons to do it as there are not to and the reasons in favor are backed by science. Knowing why to do it is a good first step to make working out work for you.
According to Healthline, some actual reasons to workout from a medical professional include such classics as: it can help with weight loss (if you’re into that kind of thing), it can help build strong muscles and bones and it can reduce your risk of chronic disease. Some potentially lesser-known benefits include: it can help reduce chronic pain, it can help with relaxation and sleep quality and it can help improve brain function.
Knowing so many very positive pros helps me know why I should exercise and, as a wise man once said, knowing is half the battle, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that I’m very good at rationalizing. Or at least I thought I was until I started looking into my reasons why I was against physical fitness. Here are some of my attempts to justify my way out of it and why they didn’t work, along with how you can make working out work for you:
1. It’s boring/ upsetting/ a fate worse than death
I am confident that the reason why it took me multiple years and countless attempts to get into a fitness routine is that I thought that doing exercise meant running and only running. If you’re into that kind of thing, that’s great: it’s basically free and you can do it anywhere and you can build your own routine, etc. etc.
If you have flat feet and get shin splints and are pretty sure you have heat-induced asthma and breathing heavily whenever the temperature is below 50 burns your throat and you would rather participate in a real-life Hunger Games situation than even be in the same room as a treadmill, you know, hypothetically, running is not a great activity for you.
The good news, though, is that pretty much anything aside from sitting or laying down is exercise. I found out fairly recently, with the help of a little peer pressure, (thanks, Kat?) that I love boxing. Apparently, there is more than one way to exercise and some of them are actually fun; the key is to find something you’re into.
2. It’s too physically difficult/ mentally strenuous
This goes hand in hand with excuse number one. I only had to watch my former roommate do three minutes of one aptly named Insanity workout to know that I was never going to even try that and by “that” I meant exercising because I just assumed that was how everyone exercised. I evidently forgot that I can make up my own exercise routine and I don’t need someone yelling at me like I am bad at being in the military telling me to do things I don’t want to do in the first place.
Before I discovered boxing (and, subsequently discovered that I actually do like being instructed by someone else so I don’t have to think about what’s next, what order certain moves should go in or how long I should be doing something; I just like them to do it in a regular tone of voice that doesn’t make it seem like they’re constantly disappointed in me as a person), I put together a few of my own strength/cardio routines using tips I found online or free apps like Nike Training Club. Apparently making working out work for you makes it nearly impossible to find even a weak “reason” to avoid it. Coming up with my own plan also helped me combat some other excuses like…
3. It’s too expensive/intimidating/time-consuming
Just like I went through a period when I thought running was the only exercise, I also went through a period where I thought exercise didn’t count if it wasn’t done in a gym. I would go to the gym which I paid too much money for and mess around on approximately two of the dozen or more weight machines because I either didn’t know how to use them and didn’t want to ask or I would “run out of time.”
But the dictionary definition of exercise is “activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness.” There’s no mention of gyms or running or any specific way to put forth that effort. So if you like running, run. If you like using weight machines, use weight machines. If you like taking classes at a gym, take classes at a gym. Those aren’t the only things you can do to improve your health though.
You can take a walk, jump on a trampoline, dance around your kitchen, clean something for a while, skate to the grocery, play on a playground, play with a dog, play with a kid (preferably one that you know,) put together an Office Olympics, become a full-body pistol winker. If you’re moving, it counts. This is the apex of making working out work for you.
4. It’s too hard to form a new habit
Getting moving is one thing, but turning it into a lifestyle is another. Grabbing a buddy, setting yourself up for success, giving yourself plenty of time, setting SMART goals and not trying to take on too many things at once are all extremely important elements of creating habits successfully.
Even armed with facts, tips and reasons, getting started and staying active can be hard. That’s one reason why we’re so excited to be partnering with Leadership Lexington for the city’s inaugural Lex Get Fit Week. The goal of the initiative is to spend a week, June 1st through 8th, learning about and practicing healthy living. You can be a part of classes, workshops, restaurant deals (including 25% off fresh juices at our cafe) and more. One of the missions is to make sure you know how to make working out work for you.
Once you’ve gotten inspired and educated, we want to help you continue your quest. Want advice on how to use food to fuel your workouts? Connect with our Registered Dietitian, Kathryn. (And don’t miss her blog post next week about how to make your meals a little more nutritious.) Do you need a reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated during your workouts or some bath salts to help you recover afterward? We’ve got you. How about checking out a new class? We’re hosting a Laughter Yoga class July 15th. If you have a class you’d like to see at your Co-op, just let us know. Owners can get a discount at Lexington Healing Arts Academy, Mind Body Studio and Sterling Hot Yoga. If you have ideas for any other ways we can help you make working out work for you, you can fill out a suggestion card at our Hospitality Desk.