I recently let my exercise regime slide (again!) while battling a nasty case of bronchitis, but now that I can breathe normally I am easing ever so slowly back into a more active lifestyle. My own struggles with maintaining a fitness program due to bouts of depression, physical injuries, and lack of motivation are not uncommon. I could do the research and spout out statistics on how many people exercise on a regular basis and how many don’t, but you know as well as I do those numbers don’t really help you in bettering your own health. And chances are, you already know all the reasons why exercise is good for you. The hard part is actually doing it.
Those first steps toward the seemingly unattainable goal of good health seem only suited for mammoth godzilla strides, but it’s much easier to go about it with baby steps. Start where you are. If you’ve been spending most of your time under the covers as many of us do during an extended depression, make your first effort to get out of the bed and walk over to the window for some sunshine for a few minutes. Tell yourself you can go back to bed afterwards if you want, but make yourself take that little trip to the window. If you have been on the couch watching TV, decide to do some stretches or march in place during the commercials. Even if it’s just during one commercial. Keep taking those baby steps until you can go for a walk, a swim, or visit the gym – whatever suits you the best. For me right now, it’s dancing along with my toddler to Dance 4. Let me be honest with you: I am no dancer! I barely get any of the moves in sync with what is happening on the screen, and I make sure the curtains are drawn to avoid traumatizing the neighbors. But I sure do make my son laugh while I’m trying, and that makes me want to exaggerate my moves to make him laugh even harder. My eleven year old daughter joins in the fun a lot of times too, while my thirteen year old tells us how stupid we all look! Whatever it takes to get those endorphins pumping, people. Whatever it takes.
And you can do it, I know you can! The problem a lot of times is we have it in our heads that we have to start right off with an actual “workout”, like there’s a special code of conduct we have to go about to consider it real exercise, but there’s not! Do what makes you happy, energized and pumped for the rest of the day. Don’t fixate your fitness efforts on what you will look like in the mirror, because those results will likely take weeks, months, maybe even longer depending on what your ideal body looks like. Instead, focus on how it makes you feel. Apart from some sore muscles, perhaps, you will most likely feel a spark of energy as your blood gets flowing due to movement, followed by a sense of confidence and wellbeing. That’s the endorphins talking, so listen in and keep doing what they like. And don’t forget to drink some water!
It is a cruel shame that many of the health issues that are improved by exercise (like depression, obesity, and fibromyalgia, for instance) are the very same ones that make it so hard to get up and get started in the first place! When you see no point in living, you see no point in taking care of yourself. When every joint in your body aches, you don’t feel like moving any more than you have to. When regular daily activities cause you to be short of breath, it seems impossible and even scary to push yourself to do more. It’s situations like this where you need to be upfront with your doctor. Express your concerns and ask for practical approaches to better health. Certain activities may cause you more harm than good, so please get a medical okay before doing anything strenuous!
Even small steps may be difficult at first, but it is worth it! Now, excuse me while I go exercise my two left feet…