I think we can all agree that exercise is important and beneficial. We can also agree that sometimes motivation is a problem. And yet, quality of life could be vastly improved by a modest exercise routine. So, how do we overcome this stumbling block?
Perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift. Don't think of exercise as optional but rather as an important part of your schedule, much like brushing your teeth. In this way, it will become routine.
Maybe it is the word "exercise" that deters you. "Exercise" does not mean you have to go to a gym and get lost in a sea of metal machines. You do not even have to leave your home to get a good workout. Keep a dumbbell, a soup can or a stress ball by your TV and use them during commercials.
Start slow and work your way into a routine. This is a good beginning. There. now you are on your way.
We have all become very good at making excuses when it comes to exercise. Regardless of your age or physical level, there is an exercise for you. It's just a matter of finding the right one. It may be disguised as a dance class, as gardening or even as playing with your kids or grandkids. Find the thing that you enjoy and make it work for you.
Many claim they are too tired. Remember that exercise actually energizes you once you get started. Think about how great you will feel after a short workout.
A great strategy for inspiration is to make attainable goals for yourself. Celebrate each one as you attain it, set a new goal and go from there. Nothing feels quite as good as a victory, no matter how small.
Be sure to listen to your body. The idea of exercise is not to cause pain, rather to strengthen and energize. The adage "no pain, no gain" is incorrect at best, and detrimental at worst. My advice to all my residents is to STOP if they feel pain.
Many times, it is negative thoughts that keep you from exercising. The more you give in to these negative thoughts, the stronger they become. Imagine a small snowball gaining momentum as it rolls down a hill. Negative thoughts are like that. One small thought can grow huge, preventing you from succeeding. Conversely, if you let it, a small positive thought can also grow and become instrumental in your success.
So the question becomes, how do you stop negativity from getting you on the right track? Here are some things you can do:
- Show those pearly whites. A smile can help gain confidence and relieve stress. You'll be surprised to see how many people will smile back at you.
- Surround yourself with positive people. We all have friends who help us put things into perspective and don't feed our negative thinking.
- Try optimism. Imagine that glass half full. (Your choice of imaginary beverage!) A great way to start is by counting your blessings. You'll be amazed at how long that list can be.
- Be the duck. You cannot control your circumstances but you CAN control how you react to life's curve balls. I have dubbed this the "Duck Method." Have you ever watched water roll off a duck's feathers? Nothing permeates. The duck moves on. Choose to be the duck.
- Go easy on yourself. It's easy to dwell on mistakes. Instead, learn from them and keep going. We're all human.
"I think I can, I think I can…" I KNOW you can!
Terry Alburger is the Fitness Instructor at Brittany Pointe Estates, an ACTS Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale, www.actsretirement.org. Email questions or thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.