We are all aware that exercise is good for your mental and physical health. For the last two decades (at least) this message has been beaten into our heads. But if you don’t find the exercise that works for you, you will probably stop doing it. How many times have you joined a gym and rarely (if ever) gone? Bought a bike, treadmill, elliptical machine etc and never used it? I get it, I’ve been there myself. For me running has always been an outlet. But before you say, I HATE running, understand I’m not recommending you run. I run, because I have ALWAYS loved to run. As a kid, teenager and now as an adult. So for me, running is the obvious exercise of choice.
If you’ve never enjoyed running, try to think about an exercise you have enjoyed, and think WAYYY back into your childhood. I have a friend who was very good at using a hula hoop as a child. Now for exercise she uses a weighted hula hoop (yes these exist, and it’s really HARD) and swings away while listening to music or watching a movie.
Another friend of mine loves to dance. When she dances, she is in her element. So recently during the winter time when she was lamenting the lack of exercise she was getting, we brainstormed ideas. She realized she could easily set aside 30 minutes a couple times a week, to dance her heart out in her apartment to her favorite music.
Think outside the box when it comes to exercise and be very deliberate about your choices.
-Do I want to be with others, or do I want alone time?
-Does this exercise need to be outside/inside?
-Do I need to purchase equipment?
-How much before thought is required to actually get started on the exercise?
-How often can I realistically do it?
In my case, running is my time to process, so I am very picky about who I run with. This also means that sometimes I prefer to be alone. I also HATE treadmills, so because I can’t run outside during the winter, I joined a gym with a track. I made my exercise work for me all year round. (For the record, this is the first winter that it actually worked out. I used to stop running during the winter months but brainstormed with a friend, and learned of a gym with a track!)
If you are a more social person, than maybe joining a gym that has a lot of classes would be a great fit. Zumba is my nightmare, but for many extroverts it’s the perfect form of exercise. A patient told me recently he loves to spin because the lights go off, the music is high energy and he can just get in the zone.
Whatever exercise you pick, 99.9% of the time, you will always feel better. I’ve never gone on a run and thought to myself, “Well that was a poor use of my time!” Never. It’s especially powerful on those days I feel sluggish, depressed, victim-y, and cranky.
And finally, trick your brain. If you start telling yourself that your exercise time is YOUR time and you are looking forward to it, you will actually start to. Put it in your calendar. Don’t cancel on yourself. Don’t you hate when people do that to you?
Take care of YOU.