Getting started

2011-07-18 00:00

YOU can’t argue with the fact that deciding to exercise regularly is one of the best decisions that you could ever make. “True in theory,” you say, “but where on Earth do I get the motivation from?”

Sure, there are many obstacles that you can allow to block your way. But why deprive yourself of a much better quality of life? So, those who say “Exercise is too boring”, or “I’m in no shape to exercise” or “I simply don’t have the time” — clear your mind, leave it open to reset these thoughts, and read on.

Exercise? Firstly, let’s get comfortable with the term “exercise”. Perhaps you equate this only with jogging, power walking, swimming, rowing, squash, cycling and stair stepping — all of which could be pretty intimidating. There is good news. Other more gentle activities such as dancing, mowing the lawn, gardening and light sporting activities also qualify as exercise.

According to a recent article in the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine, moderate physical activities are definitely worthwhile and are highly effective in managing weight, promoting health and reducing stress. Furthermore, there is increased respect for the process of exercise or physical activity — doing something daily, regardless of the amount of fitness produced.

This is great news and makes the whole idea of health through physical activity so much more attainable.

I’m sure you believe you’ve read all the motivational tips out there, but here are some you possibly haven’t considered.

 

Matching your chosen activity to your personality

In the article mentioned above, Bryant Stamford matches certain personality types with types of activity.

• Competitive folk choose activities that satisfy their nature such as tennis, squash or a team sport.

• The playful type might choose dancing (any type), in-line skating, ice skating, water skiing or horse riding.

• Those who have a strong work ethic might want to double up their exercise with getting the job done. Try mowing the lawn, gardening, doing housework or washing the car.

• Loners may prefer to exercise in the privacy of their home, or take a walk in the park, hike a trail, or try tai chi, yoga or the martial arts.

• The socialite might try walking through shopping malls. A golf foursome, group hikes or group bicycling are also good choices. They might also join a gym to exercise and socialise.

• The goal-oriented type might choose traditional fitness activities or take up power walking or running, where they can set new challenges and walk or run further and faster

• The confirmed couch potato might be reading this and quivering, but don’t despair. Make a commitment to do something, no matter how apparently trivial, every day (climb six flights of stairs or walk to the café).

 

• Create your personal reasons list.

Keep a piece of paper and pen handy for several days. Jot down every reason you can think of that you want to get healthy, get fit or lose weight through consistent exercise. Make the list comprehensive and extensive. This may not seem important, but it is critical to be able to read this list when your motivation is waning. It’s a powerful way to quickly get remotivated.

 

Prioritise exercise on your “to do” list

Reserve a time slot for exercise at least three times a week and don’t let anything interfere. Not setting a time leaves you vulnerable to trying to find the time, which typically doesn’t work. The best time to exercise is the most convenient time for you.

 

Don’t let others lead you astray

Inform everyone of your exercise time. When you are approached to do something else, invite others either to exercise with you or come back later.

 

Plan ahead

Be prepared to exercise. If you exercise first thing in the morning, get your clothes out the night before, or have your gym bag packed for the next evening. It decreases the inertia of getting moving when demands arise.

 

Have fun

Customise your approach to make exercise more enjoyable. For instance, read, watch TV, or listen to your favourite music while pedalling on a stationary cycle or using the health walker.

 

Strongly consider exercising first thing in the morning

This energises you for the day. Even a 30-minute walk each morning will do the trick.

 

Team up

Exercising with others can motivate you when you’re feeling lazy or lethargic. But it can have a downside. For example, a less motivated or less optimistic partner could be demotivating. An option would be to have an exercise date once or twice a week that is special or to join an exercise class. Choose the approach that works for you.

 

Be patient with yourself

Some days you will be more motivated or have more time than other days. When possible, do more (but don’t overdo it). When you can’t, do less or do something different.

 

Reward yourself

One real-life example is a woman who puts money into a piggy bank every time she exercises. She gives herself the freedom to spend this money on things she normally wouldn’t buy for herself at the end of the month. You could select a small amount per work-out. It’s the principle that counts.

So don’t take the approach of Robert M. Hutchins, who said: “Whenever I feel like exercise I lie down until the feeling passes.”

You’ll never look back when you realise all the benefits that are available when you exercise regularly.

— Sport Science Institute of SA

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