Taking Fitness Personally
Before you beat yourself up about not going to the swanky gym you joined last
year or using your home treadmill as a second closet, think about whether you
truly enjoy exercising in the traditional sense. If the idea of working out in
the weight room or taking a weekly aerobic class evokes dread, it may be time to
reconsider your definition of exercise.
"The most important thing about exercise is consistency." says Dr. Bryant
Stamford, a professor and director of the Health Promotion Center at the
University of Louisville in Kentucky. "So you need to choose things that are
realistic, comfortable and that are going to inspire you to keep coming back."
One of the best ways to figure out what kind of exercise is right for you,
Stamford says, is to try to match an activity to your personality. If youíre not
into team sports or activities youíre probably not going to go to volleyball
practice after a long day at work. A more contemplative or introverted person
might have better luck with walks in the woods, tai chi or martial arts. But
volleyball might be a great activity for someone who is competitive or likes the
camaraderie of a team.
A goal-oriented personality, Stamford says, is often drawn to a single activity,
like swimming or running. That way, he or she can train like an athlete and
excel at a particular sport. But alternating between different activities might
also be a good idea, especially for older adults who donít want to overstress
their joints, or those who are easily bored.
"If Iím sort of a dilettante about exercise and on Monday, Iím swimming, and on
Tuesday, Iím walking, and on Wednesday, Iím biking, then Iím probably not
getting very good at one thing." Stamford says. "But in terms of being active,
Even a coach potato can make a gradual transition to exerciser, as long as he or
she begins with realistic goals such as opting for the stairs rather than the
elevator whenever possible. Or people can make time to do household chores, such
as gardening or scrubbing the tub, for the sake of their health.
"The key is getting away from this one-size-fits-all exercise idea and ask
yourself, íWhat am I willing to do?í" Stamford says. "Then the truth about your
willingness to commit is going to come out."
While people tend to think a small commitment is a waste of time, any amount of
exercise is a good starting point. And choosing activities you enjoy is likely
to motivate you to make more time in your schedule for them. "If we can get you
locked into hiking in the woods on Saturday and Sunday, then you may end up
saying, íMaybe on Wednesday I can carve out some time for exerciseí" says
Studies confirm that exercise doesnít have to be painful to be effective, so
pick an activity that gives you some joy, whether itís walking around your local
mall, yoga or ballroom dancing, and stick with it.
Physical Activity Tailored to Your Personality
Pilates, walking, yoga, martial arts, swimming, home gym
Sports such as tennis, hockey, basketball
Group activities such as golf, mall walking, hikes, public health club
Hiking, in-line skating, mountain biking, ice skating, skiing or snowboarding
Housework, gardening, lawn-mowing
Anything: get off a stop or a floor early and walk the rest, walk to the store
instead of driving.