Like you, I know the importance of exercise. It has so many benefits–controlling weight and maintaing weight loss, helps prevent strokes, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancers, arthritis and falls. It improves mood and boosts energy and I always feel better AFTER I do it. But can I just say that nothing in me gets excited about exercise. Who has time for it? I only do it because I am a grown up. And grown ups do things that are good for them, even when they don’t enjoy those things.
But too many of us are not forcing ourselves up from the couch. Only 3.5% of 20-59 year olds get the recommended amount of exercise!
And baby boomers, well, we are just embarrassing. 52% of us get NO physical activity. Zero! Zip!
So let’s talk biology and how that influences the lovers and haters, of exercise that is!
Apparently, we all have a physical capacity for exertion. New research is confirming the idea that if you push beyond your exertion range too quickly or too much, you can hate exercise. The biology part has to do with how carbon dioxide and oxygen work together. When the balance isn’t good–excessive carbon dioxide is released–the body gets stressed. And when your body feels stressed, you don’t like it. People have different thresholds. If you have a high threshold for exertion like Olympians must have, you enjoy the exercise better than someone who gets exhausted watering the plants.
Experts suggest that if we don’t exercise, use tricks like listening to music, exercising in nature, watching TV (while exercising of course) etc. When we go beyond our exertion point, feeling bad happens anyway. This means we have to stick with exercise so we can push our limit. In other words, don’t give up because it doesn’t feel good at the moment.
One other point is this: How you react and interpret a physical workout influences your love for it. For example, if you see yourself sweating and breathing hard and think, “This is good, I am getting fit,” versus “Oh my gosh, what am I doing to myself?” you will probably hate exercise less.
1) Don’t push yourself too fast–do something you like that doesn’t hurt too much. If you are a couch potato, don’t start exercising by scaling a mountain.
2) Make it fun. Do exercise with others. This sure helps my motivation.
3) Find something you are good at. I think my cheerleading days are over here at mid life. Don’t think I could hit a back handspring these days. But, Pilates, yes, I can manage those moves.
4) Use the tricks–I can only do the treadmill or stair machines if I have a TV and music to distract me. Thank goodness someone thought to attach those to my machines at the Y.
OK grown ups, get off the couch. You know what to do!
Source: Wall Street Journal, Personal Journal, Tuesday February 19, 2013.