Recently, a friend of mine wrote a post about exercising as we get older. The gist of her piece was realizing that you don’t have to kill yourself to be in shape. But when does that realization hit? Is it triggered by the pain following an overzealous workout? Or simply an internal conversation reminding you that pain isn’t necessarily the conduit for a fit body. For most of us, it’s likely the former versus the latter.
At this stage of my life I’m no longer interested in working out to be a mean, lean fighting machine. I work out to feel good and to fight gravity as much as possible. I work out because it’s my medicine of choice. I can either pop pills or exercise. I exercise because I feel better mentally and physically. I work out because exercise keeps me young, agile and strong. I work out because I’m a very responsible person and working out is being responsible not only for myself, but for those I love.
So why is it that many people still don’t exercise? During my 25+ years in the industry, the following were the most popular reasons people didn’t exercise.
1. It’s too time consuming
2. I’m too old and the pain is not worth it.
3. It’s too hard
4. I don’t get results
5. I can just change my diet and I’ll be fine.
Here is my response to the above.
1. It’s too time consuming. According to research boomers spend about 27 hours a week on the internet. Yes, 2-7. My friends, that’s a part-time job! Exercise requires 30-60 minutes a day. If you can carve out time for the internet, favorite television shows, etc. you can make time for exercise. Use the internet as incentive. “After I walk for 30 minutes I can then check out the internet.” Remember, too much sitting can be deadly.
2. Too old and painful- Not buying it. I know hundreds of men and women well in to their 70’s and 80’s that exercise every single day. Some suffer from arthritis, some from old sports injuries, but they swear that if they didn’t exercise the pain would be significantly worse. They also shared that because of exercise they are medication free. You’re never too old to move.
3. It’s too hard. You should never exercise to the point of pain. Exercise should be energizing. If you’re a beginner, please don’t take an advanced class thinking it will be more effective, it won’t. Start off with baby steps. If you take it slow and easy, you’re likely to stick with exercise. If you beat yourself up, you’ll quit. Use common sense, don’t let ANYONE tell you how hard to push yourself. You know your body, honor it and challenge it appropriately.
4. No results. The greatest revelation I had a few years ago was the understanding that exercising for unrealistic expectations (perfect body, perfect abs, legs, etc.) is an exercise in futility. I have seen more people give up exercise because they weren’t getting the results they wanted. Nine times out of ten, the expectations of my clients was completely unrealistic. Here’s the best reason of all to exercise, it’s good for your health. If you feel better you’ll look better. Magazines or television shows that make promises or show incredible results are not to be believed. No two bodies are the same and the truth is, the older we get, the more realistic we have to be about exercise. Realistic expectations are key in maintaining a healthy, rewarding relationship with exercise. I exercise to be engaged in life and live more fully. I owe my energy to exercise.
5. Change your diet. Granted, 65% of weight issues with people are nutrition based. However, exercise is absolutely vital. I’ve seen many people just diet and never exercise. They have terrible muscle atrophy, brittle bones and many problems that come from too little movement. A combination of a healthy diet (not deprivation) and regular exercise is the secret to good health. Personally, I get in about 7-8 hours of exercise a week. And that’s not all in the gym, it might be mowing the lawn, intense yard work, etc. If I’m active above and beyond walking out to get the mail, it counts.
Please note, there are days when I don’t feel like working out, my life will not end, it will go on with or without my workout. I’ve learned to cut myself some slack when I skip a day here and there. However, missing more than 2 or 3 days is a warning sign, pay attention. Unless of course you’re sick.
There really is no reason to skip exercise. I always used to tell my clients that a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing. Don’t compare, don’t create unrealistic expectations. Treasure your body, marvel at it’s potential and treat it with the respect it deserves. That my friends is the secret to a beautiful relationship.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, but making the most of it.