First find something that you love to do . . .
When I was 30, my husband and I moved to New Hampshire. I did no exercise at all. In fact, I got a side ache when I tried to walk only a short mile home after dropping my car off for service. The whole thing was made worse by living through my first New Hampshire winter after living in Texas. I mostly stayed under the covers reading books and eating peanut butter sandwiches. I gained over 20 pounds that winter! As the weather began to warm, my fit next-door neighbor took pity on me and invited me to take a walk.
We began slowly, just walking around the neighborhood, but soon we were walking five-miles-an-hour through the lovely New Hampshire countryside. The walking made me feel good. It gave me energy and a sense of control. The conversation that I shared with my new friend as we walked made it even more fun. That simple invitation to walk led me to fall in love with exercise.
Soon, I joined a gym and added classes and working with weights to the mix. Over the next 38 years, I’ve engaged in many kinds of exercise, but all of it has been fun. I only do things that are fun for me. That’s the point. We need to find things we love to do. That way, we’re in it for the long haul. I still do some kind of exercise six days a week.
Exercise is the best medicine . . .
Here’s another success story. Dixie and I have a friend named Jim who retired and wanted to learn a new sport. So he took up tennis, playing several times a week. At his prior yearly physical, he had been told that he had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
After six months of playing tennis, but doing nothing else different, Jim went back to the doctor where he discovered that his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar were all within the normal range. When he told his physician that the only thing he’d done differently was to play tennis, the doctor said maybe he should get a racket and take up the game too! It turned out that playing tennis was the best medicine.
“TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. IT’S THE ONLY PLACE YOU HAVE TO LIVE.” Jim Rohn
This isn’t about holding your nose and doing something awful that is good for you. It’s about finding something you love to do and enjoying it most days of the week. Here are some suggestions:
- Dance by yourself or in a class (line dancing, ballroom dancing, tap dancing, ballet, aerobics, Zumba).
- Walk briskly with a friend or with your spouse or by yourself. Walk around your house during commercials.
- Jog or run.
- Take an aerobics class.
- Explore Yoga or Pilates.
- Swim or just walk or run in the pool. It’s great for your joints.
- Take a hike. Enjoying nature makes this all even better.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Hire a personal trainer and develop a personal workout.
- Begin lifting some weights. Even cans out of your pantry will work.
- Buy an exercise video and do it in the privacy of your own home.
- Find an exercise program on television and do it three or four times a week.
- Join a running group and begin to train.
- Consider kayaking or canoeing.
And here are a few more . . .
- Learn a new sport. Golf? Bocce? Shuffleboard? Pickle Ball?
- Play tennis.
- Walk the golf course.
- Do something again that you used to enjoy. Racquetball. Volleyball. Softball.
- Train for a race.
- Walk your dog.
- Take a spin class. You can go at your own pace and it gives great fitness results.
- Find a new winter sport – skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing.
- Try out rock or wall climbing.
- Join a fitness challenge. It’s a great way to stay motivated for a set period of time.
- Take a Boot Camp class. Some people love them!
- Subscribe to a fitness magazine. It will inspire you.
- Keep a fitness journal. How far did you walk, run, ski, and swim? How did you feel?
- Set some measurable fitness goals.
- Reward yourself – not with food – but perhaps with a new workout outfit or some particularly nice golf balls.
Then stick with exercise for the long term . . .
Once you’ve found something – or many things – you like to do, keep doing them. You’ll see benefits within a very few weeks. Amazingly enough, older people who begin exercising gain more benefits than those who are younger. Aside from the obvious health benefits, you’ll gain a sense of pride and accomplishment from taking charge of your health. Here are some things to help you stick with it.
- Bring a friend along. It’s always fun to do something together.
- Make it competitive. Some people enjoy exercise more when it’s part of a competition.
- Join a team. Once you’ve made that commitment, you’re required to show up.
- Use music or podcasts to inspire your workouts. Studies show that listening to music while running, for instance, makes exercise seem easier.
- Join a gym or your local YMCA. You’ll have some skin in the game, and you’ll make friends in the classes, as well.
- Create a fitness journal to chart your progress.
- Reward yourself with something big if you do something big. When we finally stopped smoking, we went on a cruise!
Let us know about your own journey toward fitness! We’d love to share it.