Thoughts on exercise

“Remember, you don’t need to take exercise too seriously – you just need to take it regularly.”

Martha Lourey-Bird, exercise scientist

{Image MiNDFOOD}

A Non-Exerciser’s Perspective

I’ve never been what you would call a ‘sporty’ person – in fact, i’m far from it! While I was able to excel in more intellectual pursuits, I spent a lot of my school career exerting an enormous amount of effort avoiding phys-ed classes. The mere thought of it made me feel like taking a sick day! By the time I finished high school, the only remotely athletic contribution I had made was that of ‘equipment care taker’ on the girl’s hockey team!

I am yet to make up my mind whether this sad state of affairs came about as a result of nature (that I instinctively shied away from something I knew I was no good at – essentially it was not in my genes) or as a result of nurture (that I was brought up without an emphasis on sports, travelled around a lot as a youngster and missed out on learning the games the other kids were playing). Who really knows? And in hindsight, it doesn’t really matter…

I did eventually go on to sample and embrace the aerobics craze during my 90’s university days. What I liked about it was the fact that no one depended on you to get the moves right, and as long as you could always secure a spot at the back of the room, no one could see you, or even cared what you were doing – PERFECT! I had entered the realm of the gym, but it was still a long time before I would pluck up the confidence to approach the scary looking treadmills, machines and weights room!

It wasn’t until I met my husband that my attitude to exercise began to change. I had never met anyone who committed themselves so wholeheartedly to their physical wellbeing and sporting pursuits…it just wasn’t something I was familiar with. At first, I found it amusing to see the effort and emphasis that was placed on ‘going for a training ride’, having a swim or doing some extra weights at the gym, but I soon decided that there must be something to it, and my natural inclination to not want to miss out on anything took over…

Exercise Enlightenment

As I have gradually learned more about exercise and its many benefits, I have also developed a profound appreciation for it, and can’t really imagine it not being a part of my life now.

Here are my personal Top 10 ‘Revelations’ about exercise and how to be at peace with it…

  1. Committing to my health is a priority not an act of self indulgence.
  2. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated, and doesn’t have to involve expensive gadgets, gym memberships or the latest fad.
  3. I have to plan for exercise and need to schedule the time, or else it doesn’t happen (allowing room for flexibility, so I don’t go crazy).
  4. My workouts have to suit me and my personality to be able to stick with them (i.e. my preference is for solitary pursuits, over team sports)
  5. Consistency over time is the key – so if i’m not feeling up to it, i’ll have a rest day without any guilt or negative self talk -being sure to get back in to it the following day.
  6. Having someone like a trainer (or in my case, husband) to guide you, push you and talk common sense to you, can be an invaluable tool to help stay committed and prevent you from ‘drifting’.
  7. Attempting to do too much too soon will only get you injured and/or frustrated. Exercise should be viewed as a way of life, not a 4-week program, or something you only do in preparation for a big event.
  8. Exercise creates energy and vitality, and is a great mood enhancer – if i’m feeling tired and lethargic, that’s when I can’t afford NOT to exercise.
  9. My body will never be that of an elite athlete – it wasn’t designed that way and I don’t want it to be. I exercise to feel good, maintain good health and have the stamina to live life the way I choose.
  10. I know i’m setting a wonderful example for my daughter, who will grow up with exercise and activity as a natural and familiar part of her everyday lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t ride a bicycle (haven’t since I was about 12 years old, when bike helmets came in!) and I can’t swim to save myself (picture me cramping up in Beatty Park Pool, while Pascal patiently attempts to improve my non-existent freestyle technique!) – but I have learned to develop an exercise routine that works for me – one that I can adapt to my current lifestyle, toddler and all!

My Routine

6-weeks in to my ‘Personal Plan’ Program and my weekly routine is looking a little like this:

Mon: 40 min brisk walk along the coast with the pram
Tues: 30 min weights work out at home
Wed: 45 min outdoor evening park workout with Pascal & Sophie
Thurs: 40 min walk/jog
Fri: Rest day (try to get in a walk to the shops or park)
Sat: 40 min walk/jog (intervals)
Sun: 40 min brisk walk with pram + 30 min weights workout at home

Your routine may look similar, or completely different – my motive here is to demonstrate that exercise can be (and needs to be) for everyone, no matter your current lifestyle or what your past experience has been.

Read the quote at the top of this post again and think about it… as much complicated research and scientific investigation has gone in to trying to determine what is ‘best’ for us in terms of exercise and increasing our fitness levels, it all boils down to this one basic idea.

Its not rocket science… you just need to get MOVING, get moving OFTEN and commit to it for LIFE.

I get it now…really, I do!

2 Responses to “Thoughts on exercise”

  • Michelle:

    Such great advice! I think sometimes it’s too easy to think it’s all or nothing and give up before you’ve even really begun.

    I’ve recently started getting back into regular exercise and, although it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated, I feel so much better for it. Gets easier the longer I do it too, which is encouraging.

    • Nicole:

      That’s great news Michelle! Its all about setting up a sustainable routine that works for you and your lifestyle. The benefits of regular exercise far outweigh the small effort it takes to get up earlier, or fit in an extra walk or training session at the end of a busy day! Keep up the good work girl!