A Few Thoughts and Tips About Exercise

I recently saw a television commercial for a product that claims to reduce body fat without any additional effort on its user's part. This wasn't the first of its kind either. I seem to remember a product called "Exercise in a Bottle" from a few years ago. One of my own good friends bought one of those belts that make your stomach flex using electrical pulses. I tried that thing out actually. It was kind of like a massage chair, but one that painfully causes your muscles to contract.

There seems to be a trend forming here. People want to have the benefits of exercise, particularly possessing thin and toned figures, without any effort. I do understand that many people in this land of plenty have weight problems, and anything they want to do to improve their condition and happiness is great. It just seems that many people have focused solely on the goal of weight loss and have lost sight of other benefits of exercise: those that aren't measured in pant sizes or numbers on a scale.

Exercise improves overall health and energy. Getting the old heart pumping now and again could help you live longer. Also, having a reasonable level of fitness will help one perform better on the job and get to sleep at night. Increasing one's level of activity increases one's capacity for an even more increased level of activity; you can take it up a notch and continually see real improvement. 

Exercise helps people feel good. Doing exercise releases endorphins, what some have called a runners high, that actually help people enjoy exercise. That feeling can last for hours after exercise. It is partly satisfaction from doing something worthwhile, and partly feeling energized from the exercise itself. In other words, exercise has psychological and physiological benefits inherent in it. The body says, "I know this is work, but it's good for us." Thus, exercise can help people feel better about themselves and feel good.

The trouble is that exercise is work, but without a boss. Nobody (usually) is there to get you off the couch and onto a treadmill. Laziness wants to keep being lazy, and the prospect of work seems much harder than it really is. Also, exercise takes time out of the day. Sometimes people compact so much exercise into so short a time that it is actually more like torture, making the would-be exerciser dread the upcoming event. Sometimes just the thought of starting a routine is daunting, or once the routine is started the exerciser can't stick to it because they pushed themselves too hard on the first day. Here we have the truly basic problem: people dread exercise, for one reason or another.

If you want to start exercising, you don't have to dread it. Anybody can start exercising and stick to it. The trick is to make it enjoyable. It must bring you some enjoyment or else it can't last long; nobody can keep up a grueling regimen indefinitely unless there is motivation coming from somewhere. But be careful. You could be fooled if the exercise you picked doesn't agree with you at first. It really doesn't matter what you try, but you have to give it a real chance. Try it for a few weeks before making your decision about whether or not it is for you.

One way to help make an activity more enjoyable is to do it to music. Get an MP3 player and an arm band to hold it. I would highly recommend this. You can wear it in the gym and on the running trail without even knowing its there, apart from the music blaring in your ear. I find that music not only makes my runs more enjoyable, but actually can help me push myself harder. The recurring bass from some Green Day songs (Minority, Holiday) just happens to match up with my faster strides, allowing me to haul some serious ass. It's actually a pretty cool phenomenon.

One important part of getting satisfaction out of exercise is seeing yourself improve. That's why it would be important to set a goal. You could set a goal for how many times you exercise per week, how far you go, for how long, or whatever. It is just important to have a benchmark. Imagine if you decided to start running and you would stop "whenever I get tired." That would be a recipe for defeat because you could claim you were tired after three blocks. The same goes for almost any kind of exercise. But if you have a goal you can make sure you are actually doing your routine and measure your progress.

One more idea is you could make exercise a social thing. If you have a reliable buddy to go exercise with you can motivate each other to actually exercise. That's how the jocks in high school did it. The key is having the "reliable buddy." If they aren't a self starter they might just go with you the first time and their lack of commitment could become an excuse for you not to go. But having somebody to talk to on a run or in the gym is nice. Also, you won't be able to play racquetball, a really fun game, unless you can find somebody willing to go with you.

Generally with physical activity, the body is willing, but the spirit is weak. It doesn't have to be that way, though. All you have to do to reap the benefits of activity is find something that you like and are willing to do. Longevity is the key. A week, a month, or even a year of exercise won't seriously benefit anybody in the long run. But if it becomes something you actually like to do you could find yourself in a much better place for the rest of your life.

– Benski – Not a fitness expert. Just a guy who likes to run. 

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One Response to “A Few Thoughts and Tips About Exercise”

  1. Greg Says:

    I’m going to buy a tazer, put a label on it, and re-market it as a weight loss device. I’ll call it the fat-zapper. “And not only can you reduce the ugly fat on your own body through electrical stimulation, you can get your chubby little brats motivated to excercise as well.”

    I don’t know. Maybe it will work.


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