I Heart Exercise

Valentine’s Day is a time to sit back with an overpriced box of chocolates, watch reruns of your favorite rom-com, toss playing cards into a hat from several feet away (oh wait, scratch that last one), and…reflect on love.  On this day of love homage, I ask you to think about your true passions in life.  A passion is something you devote yourself to, care most about, and defines who you are.  What are three things you are the most passionate about?    What do you love?

Is exercise on your list?  No?  Don’t sweat it.  Exercise is not a life passion for most people, and this is what makes it so hard to keep up.  Exercise can actually take time away from things you would really like to be doing.  One way to feel a stronger commitment to exercise is by connecting it to your true life passions.  This takes some creativity, but the objective is to find a physically active way to do something you are passion about.  Here are a few ideas:

Your Hunny:  Obviously your partner is one of your passions in life, this is the reason you chose him or her.  What better date than working out together?  Going for a long walk or bike ride is a great way to connect, make time to talk, and share an experience.  Schedule an event that you can train for and accomplish together.  Having shared goals and experiences can strengthen your connection to your partner, especially if you are finding it tough to spend enough quality time together.

It’s a Doggy Dog World.   One woman I worked with expressed a strong love for animals, so I suggested walking her dog as  away to get her exercise in.  By walking the dog, she can care for her dog and be active at the same time.  Exercise has the same benefits for dogs as it does to humans and is a great way to keep your dog healthy.  Another option is to offer to walk someone else’s dog or even volunteer at a shelter to walk stray dogs.

Great Outdoors.   I’ll never forget one patient that I worked with who said she did not exercise because she hated it.  It turned out that what she hated was indoor exercise: the treadmill, exercise bike, gyms, and exercise classes.  She took much joy in outside activities though, like finding a good hiking trail or visiting a nature preserve, so much that she did not even consider these exercise.  In fact, she felt being outside reduced her stress and made her feel instantly better after a bad day.  All she really needed to do was come up with a schedule of these outdoor activities to make them a regular part of every week.

Do It For the Kids  Making exercise with your children a regular part of your exercise routine can be a great way to spend quality time with the kids, keep them healthy, while keeping you healthy.  You could dance, have them join you in the basement for a workout, or play Nintendo Wii for a few hours a week.  One patient I worked with replaced TV night a few days a week with the Wii.  This got the whole family off the couch, moving around, and having fun interacting together.

Book It.  Love to read?  Books on tape during a walk (indoor or outdoors) can be a great way to make a walk go by fast.  You can rent books on tape at any local library.

Spirituality.  I had a patient who spent a great deal of time at church and church events.  To get active, she decided to organize a walking group in her congregation.  This gave her a chance to connect with like-minded people while also getting physically active.  Exercise could also be a time to pray, meditate, and contemplate your spirituality, something that might be hard to fit in otherwise over the course of a busy day.

Biker Dude.  Obviously riding a motorcycle itself is not intensive physical activity, but a long ride to a location to explore and be active can be. For example, take a ride to the mountains and go for a hike or skiing.  Have an active destination in mind and map out a nice, scenic ride to it.

Foodie.  Ok, so the truth is some of us are passionate about food.  How on earth to make food a physical activity?  Plant a garden, that’s how.  Digging, weeding, and tending to the garden is a regular activity that is likely to keep you very busy and very active.  If you love to cook, finding new and interesting recipes that help you enjoy the fruits and vegetables of your labor can be great fun and very healthy.  This also saves a ton on the grocery bill!

WorkAHolic. Many people are quite passionate about their work and spend a lot of time at it.  If you work long hours and find it hard to get home at a decent time to exercise, maybe there are ways to exercise within your work day or even while you are working.  Make a small meeting a “walking” meeting which can be one way to get the physical and intellectual juices flowing. Also, hitting up workmates to go to a yoga class or shoot baskets after work can be a nice way to unwind after the day and have some downtime with the crew.  You might also try a treadmill desk (see my review of the Trek Desk).

If you have found a unique way to combine a passion with exercise, please share in the comments!   Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore.  Attach it to something you love, and you will grow to love it more.

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4 Comments

  1. Tremalien says:

    Sherry,

    This advice is spot on. Personally I have a passion for running which helps me stay in shape and allows me to eat a few too many girl scout cookies.

    However running is not for everybody. When a friend or family member comes to me for exercise advice, I tell them the key is to find something they truly enjoy.

    Like you have stated, the examples are endless. For my mother it’s jazzercise, for a friend it’s karate, I even have a cousin who uses “Dance Dance Revolution” as her exercise routine.

    As you have pointed out, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise it is, but pairing it with your “passions” makes a world of difference.

  2. Mike b says:

    I like the idea of pairing something your passionate with the exercise. I know running with a friend wile talking ( I love talking to my friends) motivates me, even if just on the phone. I am very passionate about eating sweets, you will have to let me know if you can come up with a way to do that with a physical activity, that would be great!! And I have been doing the basketball once a week with friends and co workers, it adds a great variety to the workout week.

  3. Kristin says:

    Excellent advice! I know I wouldn’t be nearly as active if I was only given the choice to lift weights or take aerobics classes. Finding something you love is the key.

  4. Barb,RN says:

    You are so right. Everyone has to find an exercise that fits into their lifestyle. We retired and got a dog. Motivation being the sign at my husband’s cardiologist’s office which stated “If you get a dog , you can live 10 years longer”. Sounded like a good plan to me. So we walk every morning that we’re not out on the golf course.We have to keep our dog fit, right? He keeps us active even when we don’t feel like it. Of course, retiring in Florida is also a big plus. The weather is a lot better for outdoor activities. But when I lived up north, my treadmill and pilates were great for indoor exercise.

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