You Can Work Exercise into Your Life
By ANNE WOLFE POSTIC
Do you love exercise? Do you feel a rush while you’re sweating to the oldies? Are you familiar with the “runner’s high?” Well, stop reading because this is not for you.
This is for the rest of us, the ones who hate exercise. We are on the treadmill, trying to distract ourselves with “Law and Order” reruns while inwardly screaming, “I hate this! So! Much!” We exercise not for the intrinsic value, but for the other benefits, like lower blood pressure, more restful sleep, and the ability to continue fitting into our pants.
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of stroke, and mine. It can increase bone density, which you (and I) lose with every passing year. There’s even a study showing that not exercising is the health equivalent of smoking. If you, like me, are telling yourself that you aren’t a smoker so you’re doing enough, think again. We have to exercise and continue not smoking. But all these facts don’t make physical activity any more fun than it already isn’t.
So how do we do it? If you think stretchy pants are for sitting in front of the television and eating potato chips while checking Facebook during commercials, how do you incorporate exercise into your life? The good news is you can keep wearing your stretchy pants! The bad news is … well, you already know the bad news. We’re doing this.
The first thing you need is time. Do not listen to people who tell you to just get up earlier, and extol the beauty of early morning light and a quiet house. They’re well-meaning, but these are the same people who love exercise. So, if you have children or pets or a chipper roommate, you know that getting up early can lead to unwanted interaction with other beings. You may also ignore the people who tell you to give up cleaning the house because who can exercise in a nasty house? These same people will tell you to give up other things you prefer over sweating on purpose, like cooking dinner, watching “Law and Order” reruns, and staring into space contemplating nothing.
Since you probably already like all the things you do, find a way to exercise while doing them. My father-in-law knew how to work exercise into his daily life. I once saw him challenge someone to a push-up contest at a party, which was fun for everyone! One of his colleagues told us they were waiting for an elevator and the doors opened to my father-in-law hopping up and down on one foot. He explained that he would hop on the other foot on the way back down, to even things out. The man bought a house based in large part on its prime location across from a public tennis court used only rarely by other people. People started using it more when they found out the nice man across the street would come out and hit with them, whether they invited him or not. He was brilliant.
Now find an exercise that doesn’t make you want to punch walls. (Unless you like punching walls. In that case, learn to drywall, find a spot in the garage you can drywall over and over again, and punch it as much as you like. Bonus: You can make extra money drywalling things.) There has to be some physical thing slightly less annoying to you than others. I don’t mind walking, mostly because I have to do it anyway, and I’m perfectly capable of picking up the pace. I also like dancing.
Lastly, find a place to do the thing. This doesn’t have to be a gym, where you’ll run the risk of meeting people who love to exercise. Of course, it can be a gym if that’s what motivates you. (Quick tip: Don’t worry about people staring at you. They only look at people who are really good at it or look fantastic. If people are staring, congratulations! That’s you!) It can be your room, an empty office, or an elevator, anywhere that exercise is legal.
So, when you make your New Year’s resolution to get in shape, keep it real. You don’t have to change your mind, just your habits. You want to know my solution? I still watch a lot of television because it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures, but now I slap on my Fitbit, hop back and forth, march in place, and even do the occasional round of jumping jacks while I watch. I take my shower after settling in for a show instead of before. Easy peasy!