I confess that I hate to exercise. I have unhappy memories of gym class in elementary school. I remember running laps, counting the unending repetitions of sit-ups and failing to keep up with the other classmates. When I worked with a personal trainer, I remember her laughing as I struggled through another grueling set of weights or squats. I could never keep up with others in exercise classes at the local gym. There was a feeling of failure, shame and humiliation for me in each of these settings, which reinforced my desire to avoid exercise whenever possible.
I also think about the positive times I enjoyed exercise in the past. Swimming lessons at the local lake, playing tag with my friends, biking with my husband, hiking in the mountains, and learning to line dance were all very enjoyable. Remembering these happy times make me realize that exercise can be enjoyable in the right setting.
My husband and I sometimes take a walk after he comes home from work. In the spring we look for new flowers popping out of the ground. In the summer we walk around the block in order to avoid the ticks and mosquitoes in our woods. In the fall we enjoy seeing the changing colors at local parks. Walking is more enjoyable with a partner.
But what about exercise in the winter, especially when I don’t like outdoor winter activities?
Over the holidays, my son made a list of some of my favorite upbeat tunes and mixed a workout CD for me. Tunes from the 70’s and 80’s, and a few recent ones like “Happy” from the movie Despicable Me. It makes me very happy to listen to this music. I notice that I can’t sit still. I have to get up and move to the rhythms. Twenty or thirty minutes go by quickly when I’m having fun. This is my new wintertime exercise routine.
How can you find the right combination of activities for your exercise routines? Start with a list of things you enjoy doing, which involve movement. You might consider some of the following ways to increase your activity level:
Now that you have a list of your favorite ways to move, choose to do at least one thing every day. Add to the list when you discover new activities. Invite a friend or spouse to join you.
Enjoy your fun exercise routine!