The word “exercise” tends to scare people off.
It’s something that conjures up images of monotonous treadmill sessions, intimidating exercise contraptions, and impossibly fit people doing moves that I couldn’t imagine having the strength or flexibility to even attempt. It’s a word that can instantly evoke feelings of dread, drudgery, and dig up just about every insecurity you have. You’re not thin enough. You don’t have abs like her. You can’t do push-ups like him. You’re not as fast as they are.
But that is truly not what exercise is about at all, or at least it doesn’t have to be.
We put a lot of “shoulds” on exercise. I should be running every morning like my friend does. I should be lifting as much weight as he is. I should be doing the same stretches that blogger does. I should be following this program or that program. I should be using this specific equipment.
And with each and every one of those unspoken expectations, we lock exercise up into this teeny tiny box and decide if it’s not painful, sweaty, and done this particular way, it simply doesn’t count.
What if it didn’t have to be that way?
This week, I had the pleasure of meeting a new friend for a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. We walked for hours around lakes, next to waterfalls, and across streams.
I was completely engrossed in a world of glittering emerald waters, chittering chipmunks, and wildflowers.
I wasn’t monitoring my heart rate, counting my steps, or pacing myself. I wasn’t staring at my watch, dreading how far there was left to travel. I was simply walking, exploring the area in wonder.
Sometimes we talked, sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes we plowed forward, sometimes we stopped to take pictures, sip water, or rest on a log.
There were no shoulds on this hike, it was pure enjoyment (and I’m already planning another trip back).
And in that pure enjoyment, I ended up walking over 10,000 steps, burning nearly 1,000 calories, and logging almost a week’s worth of the recommended cardio exercise time. It certainly wasn’t the main goal, it was just a happy side effect of a lovely activity.
Exercise is good for you, and every single person should be doing it. You don’t have to exercise how your friend, your sister, or your neighbor does. You don’t have to be fast or strong or fit to do it. Just find ways to move and do it often.
I challenge you this week to find ways to exercise that don’t feel like exercise. You are so much more likely to stick with an activity that you actually enjoy, and it helps if you can find a person you like to keep you company, too!
It seamlessly weaves exercise into your life without needing to carve time out of your schedule to go to the gym.
Go window shopping, run through the sprinklers, do karate, fly a kite, join the PokemonGo craze, or go to a museum.
There was a Coors Light ad that I saw recently that said, “Whatever your mountain, climb on.”
It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something!