True confession: I was never fond of exercise. In fact, I used every excuse not to exercise way back in high school. Now, of course, I understand the benefits much better than I did then, and I also like exercising – really and truly! If you haven’t quite gotten to that point, yet, here are some of the things that helped me get over my aversion and get into an exercise groove:
1) Chronic pain and illness pose unique issues to each of us when it comes to exercise. It’s vital that each of us work with our doctors and, if needed, a good physical therapist, to find the plan that will work safely and healthfully. Banish “No pain, no gain” from your vocabulary, and work with your medical team closely on what’s right for you.
2) Whether in steps or stretches, each move we make toward better health is progress. Try to envision these “little victories,” as you exercise, and watch as they form a big picture of better form and function.
3) Make exercise meaningful. Jesus walked. Paul ran a race. If your routine is boring, make it your prayer time. Or, think of it as a way to reduce stress. Plan out your day’s schedule with each rep.
4) Do something social. Golf, tennis, power walking – these can all be done with friends, and can become ways to bond in otherwise isolated and busy lives.
5) Break it up into smaller chunks. If a 3-hour marathon to the gym four days a week is too much of a commitment, find exercises that take less time and are closer to home. Again, work with a physical therapist to discover new ways to go for the same fitness goals you might have thought were unattainable unless you put in full-time hours.
6) Change it up. Tired of the same old routine? Explore new possibilities with your medical team and add something new.
7) Make exercise a tool. I was intrigued by a recent newspaper article that described a pre-game routine by UCLA football coach Jim Mora. Before the fans stream into the Rose Bowl, he runs up and down the steps of the stadium to reduce his pre-game jitters. In doing so, he also gets a great workout! There are lots of other ways that exercise can be a useful tool for other daily activities – walking to the store, taking stairs instead of the elevator, stretching between emails. Work with a good doc and physical therapist to find what’s right for you.
Yes, I now like exercise, and have reaped many benefits from keeping constant with it. It’s not easy to do, and there are days when lupus and pain and other complications prevent me from enjoying “full range of motion,” but I no longer make excuses as I once did. Rather, I make up my mind that, when I can, I will!
Blessings for the day,