Friday, July 20, 2007

What if Exercise Was Easy?

No pun intended, but it’s a big step to start a running or a walking program. And if you wanted to nail it down, it’s not the exercise or even the degree of difficulty, but the fear of failing in commitment that holds us back. “I signed up for a Running Room Learn to Run program,” my friend emailed. “but I know I'll never stick with it.”

I hear ya, Sister. I'm the Queen of Excuses.

Getting into the routine of walking or running is the hardest hurdle to overcome. But it comes down to the decision point – a choice to do it in spite of that nagging voice that consumes your head - that whine with the bottomless pit of excuses.

Choose to get out there and move, even though you feel like a slug. The good news is that every time you choose yes, you squelch that little failure voice. Every time you choose to ignore it, that voice loses strength. It loses its grip on your psyche. And soon, you associate your walk or run with enjoyment. With pleasure. With anticipation. You’ve retrained your brain. And you’ll get cranky when you’re denied the pleasure of exercise.

I know these things.

It’s important to realize that the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond what you might expect. You can expect to physically feel better, but the inner sense of well-being, the clarity of thought, the pride of accomplishment, self-confidence and connection you feel with others doing the same thing are the intangible gifts that accompany commitment and effort.

So get out there. Make it a point to experience something new each time. Walk in the morning, walk at dusk, walk in the rain, walk the dog, walk up a hill, walk somewhere different. Stop and bury your face in wildflowers. Tune your ear to the birdsong. Feel the wind in your hair. Wave hello to your neighbours. Smile. Dance. Sing along with your iPod (out loud).

Everything worthwhile takes effort. And an inch of effort is worth a mile of easy.

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