Just Keep Moving: The Wonders of Exercise
BY: Joanne Trina Moreno • Jan 05, 2020
Exercise, til it hurts no more…
This used to be my mantra when I decided to deliberately include physical activities in my everyday routine. I used to have no labeled “exercise” when I was still teaching young children. Who needs exercise when you have to engage and interact with 15 three-year-old children?
So when I decided to shift career (a.k.a. the career I am in now, which I perfectly love too), I immediately noticed this “lack” of physical activity. Suddenly, I noticed how heavy I felt when I took long walks. I also observed that I have to catch my breath when I climb up the stairs when I was just approaching the second floor!
I decided then, that no. I could not let this go on. I have to do something about it. NOW!
With this resolve, came my decision to include giving time to exercise. It was challenging. It still is, by the way. But I just have to look at myself three years ago, and vividly remember the determination on my face when I looked at myself in the mirror when I made this decision… and I keep on. Aside from this, however, (believe me, this was not the only resolve that made me stick with my decision to include exercise as part of my routine), I have had a number of sources of motivation, to keep me moving.
First, the health benefits of exercise have been proven through a number of studies. Although I did not have to read all of them, I made sure that there are published and established articles, journals, and reports from experts. In other words, it helped that I did my own research through a number of sources. This way, I have hard evidence to go back to. Having this information on hand confirms that exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, and depression. Moreover, it helps improve confidence level, self-esteem, and ability to focus and concentrate, to name a few. Research about a physical activity’s relationship with one’s health has had its own evolution as well. In an article by Kirsten Weir (2011) in Internet Source: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx, studies ranged from benefits of exercise that go beyond positive physical outcomes, to its influence on mood enhancement. Moreover, the article gave emphasis on including exercise as part of the treatment program, among psychologists and counselors. This suggestion brings me to another motivator…
The applicability of exercise to my lifestyle and my profession. Ever since I have started my practice, I have managed to ease the idea of the importance of exercise not just to myself, but to my clients too. The connection between what I do, and how I “advocate” this as an option to people I talk to, help me validate its importance. The integrative value of moving motivates me to keep on moving.
Having all these on hand, how then, do we include and most importantly, maintain, exercise as part of our routine? Although I may not have used ALL of these tips, let me assure you that most of them have helped me maintain physical activity in my daily routine. Allow me to share with you some tips.
As part of your planning, create a vision of a new “you.” This comes in the early stage of creating your routine. This may include having a goal or goals. May it be how much pounds you wish to lose, the “look” you wish to achieve, or the reduced blood sugar levels in your next physical check-up: these are concrete goals that you could include in your visualization. On my end, what I managed to visualize, was how my schedule would look like once I insert this activity every day. It allowed me to imagine myself leaving for work early, in my work-out outfit during my work-out days. In turn, I had to arrange my schedule in such a way that I could accommodate it during the first part of my day. Being a morning person, I had to have my physical activity as my first activity for the day (at least during my vigorous physical activity day).
2. Generate Ideas
There are a number of means of physical activity that does not require us to be in our gym or work-out clothes. In between those days, make sure to insert a range of physical activities. Examples can range from, but not limited to: stretching and standing up from your cubicle or work-station every 20 minutes; park your car far from the office OR get off far from your office building when commuting; use the stairs instead of taking the elevator, wash your car (or someone else’s car)… and the list goes on. You see, there is a wide array of these activities we can do, we just have to consciously distribute them across the week.
3. Find your “match”
The first physical activity that I tried out was running. I tried doing it even before my “epiphany” of exercise, but I could not seem to sustain it. Whether running on a treadmill or outdoors, I do not find myself looking forward to it when I visualize it. Luckily, an officemate of mine suggested a 30-minute high-intensity work-out program. She shared this program with me, and I found myself following the program diligently! Naturally, I have been using this program until now. I realized that I wanted more structure, that would allow me to have a physical activity wherever I am (I just have to bring my mobile phone and change of clothes with me all the time). I found my “match.”
There is no one perfect exercise that everyone finds enjoyable. Since you will do this activity as part of your routine, you might as well choose one that you find enjoyable. Find a workout that you want to do, not the one that gives you the feeling that you SHOULD do. Experiment on different activities, until you find one that suits you most. Suitability, of course, includes other factors like how much time your schedule can allow you to have one, cost-effectiveness, and health repercussions.
4. Consult with Health Care provider/expert
It is essential that we are aware of our health condition prior to trying out physical activities…especially high intensity or impact ones. Although we know our own competencies and limitations, it is still much recommended to consult with the appropriate expert first. The cardinal rule of SAFETY FIRST must still be applied. Moreover, it will also be important to be guided with recommended activities for adults as well as children and teens. According to the American Cancer Society, in the Internet Source: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/eat-healthy-get-active/get-active/make-exercise-work-for-you.html these are the recommended goal when it comes to physical activities:
Adults are suggested to have (in a week) a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity or at least a combination of both. It is preferable to spread them across the week. Moderate intensity are those that are akin to the effort of brisk walking, while vigorous-intensity activities “generally use large muscle groups that result in a faster heart rate, deeper and faster breathing and sweating.”(American Cancer Society, 2014).
It is important to be aware and guided with this information, in “designing” your own physical activity program to maximize its benefits.
5. Create and Build on your “resource”
Create your support system and your own “motivator.” As earlier discussed, your own personal motivator/s are essential in keeping making you continue your routine. Since it is a personal motivator, it of course, varies across individuals. If having a “buddy” motivates you to exercise, then design activities in such a way that involves a buddy. Identify a sport that requires partners, if you decide to have sport as an activity. Arrange a “walking buddy” with someone whom you share a closely similar schedule. If a group workout pumps you up to move more, then be involved in group activities. This may come in your workplace social activities, neighborhood or community programs or your family activities. Again, it would require you to find out what particular activities push you to start AND sustain.
Prepare for setbacks. At the end of the day, your SELF is still your strongest resource. Therefore, it is important to be kind to yourself. There may be days or sometimes, a week or two, that you could not fulfill your exercise goals and activities. Do not be discouraged. Instead, look back on the days that you have been very successful, and draw inspiration from these successes. Gather strength from them, and remind yourself that you can go back to that disposition and energy… you just have to keep on moving… because after all, the wonders of exercise go beyond being “physically healthy,” it contributes to your whole well-being and wellness with long-term benefits.
So just keep moving… 😊