Whether you’re going out for a walk or a run, to the gym to lift weights, or to the pool to swim a few laps, the self-affirmation involved in the concept of “going out” or “going to” something for the sake of exercise is quite substantial. For most of us, it takes an extra effort, an extra application of willpower, to get us out of our chair or off our sofa and get moving in the direction of physical activity. For those who are able to overcome our own inertia and actually get out there and exercise, the rewards can be great!
The message to get out there and exercise comes to us from many directions. Often it’s our spouse or partners, family doctor, or close personal friends who encourage us to exercise. Other times it’s the onslaught from newspaper, magazine, and blog articles that tell us we have to exercise. Radio and television programs feature droves of celebrity fitness experts telling us about the miracles of this or that type of exercise. Implicit in this messaging is the notion that there’s something wrong with us, that we’re not being a good person if we’re not doing what everybody else is.
However, despite the badgering of family and friends and the constant prodding of media sources, it remains true that exercise is very good for us and we all actually know this.1,2 The real missing piece for each of us is the recognition that exercise is in our self-interest and that we will proactively choose to take action on our own behalf. In other words, no one can convince us. We as individuals are the only ones who can make that difference.
How do you get to that place of choosing? First, by being willing to undertake a truthful self-assessment. If you find that you’d like to lose weight, have more energy, or have more restful sleep at night, then you might choose to begin a program of regular exercise. You do this, not as a result of someone telling you that you need to, but as a course of action that you have chosen. Then, being a reasonable person, after approximately six to eight weeks of participation in your new activities, you assess the results. If you like what’s going on, then you’ll probably choose to continue.
And then, surprisingly, if you’ve reevaluated and reaffirmed a few more times, you may wake up one day to find that you have become a person who exercises. You no longer have to think about this. You no longer feel that exercise is a burdensome activity. You actually now enjoy these activities and authentically appreciate the wonderful results you have been obtaining. The hidden benefit, of course, is that your family, friends, coworkers, and your community at large are reaping the rewards, as well.3
- Anunciacao PG, et al: Blood pressure and autonomic responses following isolated and combined aerobic and resistance exercise in hypertensive older women. Clin Exp Hypertens 38(8):710-714, 2016
- Loprinzi PD, Sng E: Mode-specific physical activity and leukocyte telomere length among U.S. adults: Implications of running on cellular aging. Prev Med 85:17-19, 2016
- Marson EC, et al: Effects of aerobic, resistance, and combined exercise training on insulin resistance markers in overweight or obese children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Prev Med 93:211-218, 2016 self-improvement lifestyle enhancement