Don’t Exercise for Your Health

March 4th, 2015 by Joan Maiden

“(Do) not fall into the rut of “exercising for your health”.  Wallace Wattles wrote these words over 100 years ago.  In many ways he was way ahead of his time.  (His writings were the basis for “The Secret”.)  He goes on to say, “Everyone is the better for a little all round use of the muscles every day; and the best way to this is by engaging in some form of play or amusements.  Get your exercise in the natural way; as recreation not as a forced stunt for health’s sake alone.  Ride a horse or a bicycle; play tennis or ten pins or toss a ball.  Have some avocation like gardening in which you can spend an hour every day with pleasure and profit, there are thousands of ways in which you can get exercise enough to keep your body supple and your circulation good, and yet not all into the rut of “exercising for your health”.  Exercise for fun or profit; exercise because you are too healthy to sit still, and not because you wish to become healthy or to remain so.”

Is this philosophy still valid?  When this was written, people where much more active in their daily lives. We need to make a more conscious effort to remain active but there is a lot we can apply to our lives today.

We are constantly bombarded with the latest fitness trend that is a “must” to do to get in shape.  How many programs have you gone on and quit?  How much money have you spent on the latest gadget, class or DVD?  I shudder to think how much money I’ve spent.

As a personal trainer, I’m constantly asked, “What’s the best exercise?” and my answer is “the one you’ll do.”     If you don’t enjoy an exercise program, you probably won’t stick with it.  I’ve spent endless hours at the gym trudging away on the treadmill and other equipment because “it was good for me” and cranked up the speed because intervals burn more fat—and hated every minute of it.  Training for a half marathon a couple of years ago, I realized I enjoy walking and running outside.  Some days it’s a long walk, some a steady jog, and at times I enjoy challenging myself to see how fast I can run to the next light pole (A fun and challenging way to do intervals.)

I don’t enjoy group exercise classes but love lifting weights and seeing my body become stronger and more toned.  Zumba may be your thing, or maybe you’ve always loved to dance but not in a crowd.  Crank up the music at home and dance for a great workout.  If you hate the gym, maybe you would enjoy working with a trainer at a private studio.  You may enjoy solitary activity or need the camaraderie of a group or exercise buddy.

Until you try a new activity you won’t know if you enjoy it.  It may take a while, but if you give it a chance, you never know what will be fun.  Don’t be afraid to get totally out of your comfort zone.  I tried boxing and realized I love putting on the gloves and punching the heavy bag.  My technique isn’t great but I have fun and get a terrific workout, (and seeing the reaction of the guys at the gym when they seem me with my boxing gloves adds to the fun!)

If you go into exercise with the mindset of “I have to do this because it’s good for me”, you probably won’t stick with it very long.  On the other hand, if you’re having fun, you’re more likely to keep it up.  No matter what your personality, fitness level or ability, there is an activity you can enjoy.  Don’t be afraid to try something new and have fun.

There is the campaign for kids to “Play 60 minutes a day”.  This should apply to adults as well.  If we would play 60 minutes a day, we would be healthier, fitter and happier; not to mention have less stress.  Go play—have fun!


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