Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Do You Exercise?

I think I have asked this question before on this blog. I have been working out very consistently for the past year, but recently I had to ask myself the above question again. And here are my answers:
  • Exercise is my “me” time
  • Exercise makes me physically feel great – the older I get the more aches and pains I have if I don’t move and stretch my body on a very regular basis
  • Exercise makes me mentally feel good – It appears that my hormones have become a bit “whacky” and my doctor would like to see me on meds, but I’ve refused. Exercise seems to regulate a lot of what’s out of whack…
Okay, so far the list sounds great, doesn’t it? And I would love if these were the only reasons I exercise daily. But the list doesn’t quite stop there:
  • Exercise helps me control my weight. A recent study suggests that it actually takes quite a bit of exercise each day (about an hour of moderate activity a day) to keep weight gain at bay as we get older…
  • Workouts at the gym give my week structure. I schedule them at the beginning of the week to make sure they get done.
Still valid reasons, no? Yes and no. Because when we get to the structure and weight part, it’s unfortunately all too easy to start obsessing.

My gym tracks how often members visit each month, and I’m in the 99th percentile, which means I work out practically every day. One reason I get to work out so much is that the toddler loves the childcare and has many friends there. However, for the past few weeks, the toddler has been battling one infection after the other, and we therefore didn’t go to the gym as often as normally. And I really started to feel uneasy when I missed two gym workouts in a row. Now, can I only work out at the gym? No. Absolutely not. And I was physically active every day in one way or another.

What I realized when I missed my gym workouts was that I had become a bit too dependent on my workouts, and I really had to question why I work out. There was guilt and related unpleasant feelings… I remembered that working out should make me feel good and missing a workout or two should not make be feel guilty.

I have decided that it’s time to take more of my workouts outside and move out of the 99th percentile of gym attendance… It’s okay if I miss a workout. What’s important is how I feel physically and mentally. I can put the toddler in his jogging stroller and go for an easy job or a brisk walk. Being outdoors does wonders for my body and soul… It’s all about finding balance and being well…

Questions: Why do YOU work out? Do you sometimes feel guilty when you don’t work out as much as you think you “should”? What is your favorite workout? My favorite workouts are long, challenging hikes… It’s been too long…

Be well,