The New Year often brings new endeavors, or at least a desire for new endeavors. A chance to improve ourselves, try something new or finally finish something on the back burner. One of the more common areas we explore a possible change is with exercise. A general feeling I get when speaking to patients is that they want to get healthier and they have a desire to exercise, but a busy life – and the monotony of their exercise routine – has trumped that desire. The simplest way to overcome exercise boredom in 2014 and to subsequently attain much better levels of overall health is to simply try something new. Not rocket science, I know, but most good things in life happen when we do the obvious.
I have maybe a 60 minute limit per week at the gym – and that is pushing it. Throwing around weights in a cramped, musty room with fluorescent lights does not have me excited to come back as soon as I can. And it surely does not inspire me to new levels of health or happiness. What it has generally done in the past is to get me in a rut. It is one of the reasons I took up triathlon many years ago. I wanted something new and different. I also wanted to be able to swim for more than ten minutes without passing out. After 6 years, dozens of races and 7 Ironman finishes I started last year to see my enthusiasm for training dissipate – so I decided to modify my routine to give me time for new endeavors. My training changes have had the effect of slowing down my finish times AND making me happier in the process. I’m surfing more (which, honestly, is the only outdoor activity in life that really matters) and I have taken up paddle boarding when there are not any waves. I also have a goal of reviving my Tai Chi practice this year.
Patients often ask me “what do you think about P90X, or Crossfit, or Zoomba” or fill in the blank with whatever thing is trending at the time. My answer is generally this – if people are doing it and are passionate about it, there is a reason. The reason is usually because it is helping them in a way other activities have not AND they have a new level of excitement and enthusiasm they were lacking prior. People can get very protective and territorial with their particular fitness system. You would think in talking to them at times that all other exercise programs were not just ineffective, but useless. This type of ownership often arises when something dramatically changes a persons life.
The fact is, if a particular method works for YOU then it is a good thing for you to be doing. If it gets you somewhat excited, if it gets you off the couch and gets you moving then you should at least give it a chance. You are not marrying your choices of fitness. Try something new, give it a chance and if it meets some basic requirements stick with it until it stops being for you what it was. Those requirements are simple: 1. Logistically is it something you can do on a regular basis. 2. Is it safe for your body (i.e.: not doing more harm than good). 3. Do you look forward to doing it. 4. Is it meeting your fitness needs.
If you can find something in 2014 that gets you excited and gets you moving then you are bound to end 2014 much healthier than you began it. All it is going to take is a little exploration to find your new favorite thing.