Move More

What is the most effective exercise?  That’s a little like asking what’s the best toothbrush:  it’s the one you use regularly.

A coach recently told me that consistency beats intensity almost every time.  Screwing up all your willpower and going hard for a couple of days or weeks or months is not going to carry you as far as doing something at a more moderate level that you can and are willing to sustain long term.

Some people think that means you should love love love the exercise you do, so that you’ll want to do more of it.  And sure, exercise can take so many forms that most people can find SOMETHING they like:  indoors or outdoors, fast or slow, competitive or not.  But when you are out of condition, it can all feel too hard and it’s difficult to imagine ever WANTING to make exercise a regular part of your life.

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I don’t hate running, hiking, and walking on trails.

So here are the insights I’ve gained over the past year and a half that are helping me to make exercise a regular part of my life.

  • Go easy, but go regular and you’ll be able to do more very soon.  Make it a habit.
  • You don’t have to love it the first time, but you shouldn’t hate it.
  • Be willing to give new things a fair try.  A fair try means you give yourself time to get past the initial adjustment period – be that three times or a month.
  • Be honest about why you dislike something before you give it up.  Boring dance class?  Drop it.  Challenging dance class?  Take it down a notch, but don’t give up.
  • There is some debate in fitness circles about activity vs. intentional exercise.  What counts as exercise depends on what you’re already doing and your current fitness level.  If taking out the trash, or going to the mailbox, or walking the dog,  are not things you regularly do and they’re a challenge, then yes, that counts.  If you’re trying to estimate a calorie burn for that in order to adjust how much you eat for weight loss, don’t do it; it’s likely too small a number to be accurate and you’ll frustrate your efforts.  But for exercise?  For general health purposes?  Yes, in my opinion, it counts.  Increasing general activity is a great place to start because it’s easy to work into your life and it doesn’t have to be too physically difficult.  Plus, you’ll be more productive.
  • Even if exercise never becomes something you are passionate about, you should still do it because it’s part of general care and maintenance of the only body you’ve got.  And it beats the alternative, which is disability and early, uncomfortable death.  (Yes, yes, I’m aware death comes to us all.)  After all, I’m not particularly passionate about my toothbrush, but I still make regular use of it because I’d like to keep my teeth as long as possible.
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9 thoughts on “Move More

  1. Julie Scott Garrett says:

    Consistency beats intensity. WISE WORDS! And getting through the adjustment period before you decide. The first couple times I went to running class, I told the instructor that I felt like a sack of concrete, like my feet were pounding on the ground like hammers. I’m still not bounding over the ground like some of the women (I compare to gazelles :D) but I’m no longer feeling like a sack of concrete 😀

    Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement 😀

    • Sara McDaren says:

      I’ve been thinking about this all evening – a running class! I am so impressed. I’m doing couch to 5k with my 12-year-old right now. I’ve done it several times and I STILL feel like a sack of concrete for the first several minutes of every run. Running is hard.

      • Julie Scott Garrett says:

        It’s really… bizarre. I HATED running. Always. Because I’m a plodder. I could walk all day, but run? No way. And the thing is, I still really don’t like running. But a friend invited me to visit the class, and the coach is fantastic. It’s all women, and totally NOT catty. Everyone goes at their own pace, and everyone encourages each other. She cultivates a really great “class culture”. Anyway, I need the accountability and I like the camaraderie. I couldn’t run ONE LAP around the track when I started, and now I can “run” a mile. I’m the slowest one there. It’s more like a fast shuffle, for me. But I can go a whole mile! It’s only two days a week, so the other days (I’m shooting for 5/7 days a week) I go for a walk/hike on the neighborhood trails.

        And maybe it’s kind of nuts that I’m spending so much time qualifying the fact that I go to a running class, because I really don’t think of myself as a runner. But there it is. IOW, don’t be too impressed! A 5K is still out of my reach, and not necessarily a goal… but maybe ;D

        I think what I really like is that the class meets REALLY EARLY (5:50-6:50) which for most of the year is IN THE DARK, which I’ve come to kind of like. It feels kind of anonymous, which fits with the way we all our challenging ourselves vs competing with each other.

        Anyway… I’m rambling on.

        But here’s another thought… I’m walking these trails in the greenbelts through our neighborhood and WE HAVE A NEIGHBORHOOD BEAR. An adolescent male bear that has moved into the neighborhood in the last month and is getting into everyone’s bird feeders RIGHT IN OUR YARDS. He was 30 feet from my backdoor on Sunday. I missed him, but I’ve never seen my son’s eyes so big!

      • Sara McDaren says:

        I totally get the camaraderie thing – it’s one of the things I like about crossfit. And the early anonymity thing, though I’ve recently decided that I never want to see 4 a.m. again.

        BTW, if you’re doing a mile now, you’re already a third of the way to a 5k. I bet you’ll do one.

        I’ve been doing evening hikes recently because that’s when I can fit it with hubby’s schedule and a raccoon was blocking my trail recently. Normally no biggie, but I kept thinking about that woman in Maine who had to drown a raccoon that had attached itself to her thumb.

        People keep saying we have coyotes and bears around too but I haven’t seen any evidence since moving here five years ago. My friend in CT, regularly has bears traipsing across her yard and she sends me pics. Tell G, pics or it didn’t happen. 🙂

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