When it Comes to Exercise, Do What Makes You Feel Good

Woman in Yoga pose in a green fieldAs a kid, I was never interested in sports or exercise. I did dabble in ballet as a very young girl and enjoyed riding my bike in primary school, but other than that, regular exercise was not a part of my daily regimen.

In fact, I had no real reason to exercise until a few years into college. I had gained about 20 pounds and wasn’t feeling as energetic as I once had. My sister (who is 11 years older than me) knew exactly what I was going through and suggested that I start working out a few days a week.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too worried about losing the 20 pounds I had gained, because I didn’t feel uncomfortable with the way I looked. Plus, my Body Mass Index (BMI) was still in the healthy weight range, which meant I didn’t need to lose weight. As a stranger to physical activity, I always believed that regular exercise was only for people who wanted to lose weight, but my sister helped me see the other side of exercise; the side that’s about how exercise makes you feel not how it makes you look.

Before I began exercising on a regular basis, the only thing I knew about it was what I learned from my mom in the ‘80s. She would occasionally take me with her to the gym where she participated in step aerobics. She also owned the Jane Fonda’s Workout series. None of that looked very interesting to me. Not to mention, I had no desire to work out in a group. I was sure there wasn’t any form of exercise that I could enjoy.

My sister knew that she could prove me wrong.

In fact, she looked me in the eye and said, “You like to go hiking and camping, don’t you?”

I said, “Yes.”

She replied, “Well, hiking is a form of exercise!”

From then on, I realized that exercise didn’t always have to be as formal and boring as an indoor fitness class. On the contrary, exercise can be any physical activity you want it to be, as long as it increases your heart rate and makes you sweat.

Man stretchingSo I started thinking about ways to incorporate physical activity into the things I already enjoyed. I’m a nature lover, so I decided I would try out running, which would allow me to work out in the company of the trees, flowers and birds. Luckily, I lived in a city that had a beautiful park with a walking path. This was where I first learned the joys of completing a three-mile jog.

It wasn’t easy, though. In fact, it took me at least three weeks to gain the strength to finish two miles. I had never run before in my life, but I was determined to reach my goal. It made me feel amazing, accomplished and energetic. After I did reach that three-mile goal, I came to realize the following things about exercise and health:

  • Your exercise regime should match your personality: If you are independent, choose a work out that can be performed alone. If you gain encouragement from others, choose a group work out. If you like being outdoors, find an activity that can be completed outside.
  • In the beginning, take it slow: If you are new to exercise, take it slow. Listen to your body. If something feels unnatural or uncomfortable, stop. Most importantly, don’t forget to stretch. This will decrease your chance of being injured.
  • Don’t forget to breathe: Your body needs a constant supply of oxygen when you work out. Don’t hold your breath or practice shallow breathing. Use your breath to help you relax and give you energy. If you become dizzy while working out, this is a sign that you are not breathing enough.
  • Take breaks: Don’t become a slave to exercise or feel bad if miss a work out. As long as you maintain a workout regimen throughout your life, you should feel proud.
  • Pick a goal and go for it: One of the best ways to find encouragement to exercise is by setting a personal goal. For me, it was running three-miles. I found that by setting a goal, I could keep myself motivated to keep working towards that goal.

Today, I still try to work out at least three days a week. Although I still jog, my exercise regimen has expanded to include a number of other activities that I find enjoyable and that make me feel energetic and happy. I will always believe that exercise should be about feeling great and not looking great, but hey, if you end up with rock hard abs and bulging biceps, that’s just another positive. However, I don’t believe it should be your initial motivation for working out. Keep doing what makes you feel great, and a toned, strong body will eventually follow!

What are your thoughts on exercise? Do you find it hard to get motivated?

If so , try focusing on how you feel during and after your workout. Forget about how you look. Let go and feel the freedom of movement. To find inspiration and stay focused on the positives in life, keep reading blogs like Personal Growth Web. There is a whole group of people just like you who are seeking happiness and balance, and we will only find these things by continuing an uplifting dialogue that reminds us we are all in this together.

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