I usually work out of my company’s downtown Seattle office on Fridays, but yesterday, I absolutely could not stomach standing at the bus stop in absolutely frigid temperatures. I didn’t have to be in the office, so I stayed home to work. (I’ll soon be telecommuting full time anyway.)
When I made the decision Thursday night, I was instantly excited at the extra exercise opportunity that a canceled commute afforded me. This actually surprised me a little. “Wow,” I thought. “I really like to exercise.”
It’s true. I like to exercise. I like how I feel while exercising, and I like what it does for my health and appearance. Of course, liking something doesn’t guarantee doing it. (There were an awful lot of years when I did not exercise enough, and not for lack of physical activity options that I enjoyed.) The problem is, I like a lot of things. I like to garden. I like to read. I like to cook. I like to sew. I like to watch movies. I can’t fit all of those things into every day, especially now that I’m both working and going to school.
I find that as the day goes on, there is a greater risk that one of my other “likes” will kick exercise off the daily schedule. That’s why I tend to exercise in the mornings, when the day is fresh. I’ve also made the conscious choice that, other than on vacations, reading for pleasure is sort of on hiatus. I still garden (I worked too hard landscaping my yard to let it turn to jungle), but I’ve scaled back to the bare minimum. Fortunately, my chickens are low maintenance! And sewing? That is really on the back burner for now. Sigh.
So what would I do if I didn’t like to exercise? That is a poser. I think that a lot of people who don’t like exercise just haven’t found the right exercise. For every person who adores yoga or running or salsa dancing, there are a hundred others who consider that activity a form of torture. For most people, exercise (or physical activity, if you prefer) can be fun, so in the interest of health and all the other benefits fitness brings, it’s well worth it to test out different activities to find the ones that fit.
The core of my fitness routine is walking and weight lifting. I have a stationary bike for when the weather is sucky. I enjoy yoga for its mental and physical aspects (and because it feels good!), but it’s an accessory exercise for me. I love Middle Eastern dance for it’s unique fitness and creative aspects, but it’s not enough on it’s own to keep me as fit as I want to be. When the weather is fine, I like to throw in hiking, jump roping on my patio, and occasionally biking (despite my constant fear of falling off).
I have known some people who manage to exercise regularly, in spite of the fact that they absolutely do not like to do it. They’ve tried all sorts of activities, and they still don’t like it. However, being fit is important enough to them that they’ve scheduled it into their lives like you might schedule a dentist appointment. You don’t like to go to the dentist, but you know you need to do it and that you will be better off for it. These are people who can really benefit from regular sessions with a personal trainer, or perhaps with an exercise-loving friend or family member who will give them the extra push they need.
Exercise. Love it, hate it or tolerate it, the end result is the same: We need to move our bodies. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what it takes to get the job done…as long as it gets done.