As an exercise junkie, I’ve often wondered why people don’t have the same passion. The reality is that for many people, exercise is associated with pain and boredom.
How many times have you seen and heard the phrase “no pain no gain”? How about “Pain is weakness leaving the body”? I saw a tag line on a friend’s e-mail that said “You can be sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow”.
Each one of these indicates torture to the non-exerciser. If you’d rather avoid torture, here’s the best advice I can provide.
Do something that you enjoy.
That’s right, it’s that easy. Exercise doesn’t have to be limited to plodding endless miles on a treadmill (yuck!). Find something that makes you feel alive. Something that gives you a goal to work toward and offers a sense of accomplishment. Something that you can immerse yourself in and make part of your life.
Here’s a list of the things I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve done this year that I would consider exercise:
- Paddled a kayak through the Dells of the Fox
- Ran multiple 5k’s outdoors
- Went geocaching with my kids
- Rode my mountain bike in the Iceman Cometh Challenge with my family cheering at the finish line
- Rode 100 miles (twice) on my road bike…before lunch
- Paddled a canoe on the Du Page River in the middle of winter
- Summitted 14,255′ Longs Peak with my daughters
- Spent 8 hours adventure racing through the Michigan woods
- Ran the Warrior Dash on Father’s Day with friends and family
- Rowed 1.3 million meters on the Concept 2 rowing machine
- Played golf with Sara
- Set multiple personal records in the deadlift
- Swam whitewater rapids (on purpose) to practice swiftwater rescue
- Completed the TRX 40/40 Challenge
- A couple of times, for a little variety, I even ran on the treadmill.
Aside from the actual exercise part of each of these activites, I experienced moments I’ll never forget.
I stood 6 feet from a herd of deer while riding my mountain bike, neither of us wanting to give up the trail. I watched the sunrise from 11,000 feet above sea level. I got caught in wicked thunderstorms and sleet storms. I witnessed the absolute silence of the winter woods after a big snowfall. I watched coyotes, eagles, and hawks when they didn’t realize anyone was watching. I waded through waist deep water fully clothed at one time and waist deep snow at another. I listened to the laughter of children and the look of amazement as they accomplished goals they never imagined. I felt the pride of accomplishment in reaching my own goals.
Each one of these experiences helped me be a better person, a better father, added years to my life, put a smile on my face and the faces of others around me, and yes, each was a form of exercise.
None of these required any special skills that anyone else couldn’t obtain. Just a level of commitment and creativity that many aren’t willing to pursue. I’m just an ordinary guy who doesn’t want to live an ordinary life.
Each was exercise. None of them were boring or torturous. Every time I went to the fitness center I was there with a purpose in mind. I knew that every squat was going to help me on the mountain bike or make it easier to haul a 55 lb. backpack up a mountain. Every rep had a purpose.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Think outside the box and find what you enjoy. And do it, often!