Or maybe you long to love it again, the way you used to years ago.
Either way there is hope!
Many times I feel like a matchmaker…. I help patients find a form or approach to exercise they can fall in love with. When they do, their face lights up, just like they found Mr. or Ms. Right!
Below are challenges that can eat away at your relationship with exercise and some ideas of how to patch things up:
- Pain: No one would argue that no pain, no gain is no fun! With the exception of exercising with arthritis, exercise should not hurt. Let me repeat that – exercise should not hurt! Even with arthritis the pain should be the “normal” arthritis pain not the “uh oh Ive done too much” pain. Pain eventually saps motivation
- When you are choosing an exercise plan, as yourself how sustainable the program is in your life. Those high intensity programs we try in an effort to lose weight might work in the short term – but will you want to keep doing it to keep the weight off?
- Address current or potential pain issues before starting a program
- See a physical therapist to rehabilitate current pain issues and gain a better understanding of what to avoid
- Most pain, because it is from strain on a joint that builds up over time, can be reduced by paying attention to daily activities. Learn about how your pain is affected by your posture, footwear, sitting position, sleeping position, and how you do daily tasks
- Find activities that don’t add to the wear and tear on that area, like seated aerobics. Remember these are short term solutions to eventually get to back to enjoying the activities you love.
- Start with several small bouts during the day. Often pain from exercise is simply from doing too much too soon.
- Start with strength training. We often focus so much on cardio and forget that strength training burns as many calories. Plus strengthening the joint in the right way is a great way provide support and reduce pain. Start with light weights and build up gradually
- Stretch! Tight muscles pull on joints just like out-of-alignment wheels cause wear and tear on a car. Stretching is about re-setting muscles to their resting length and reducing inflammation. It is a key part of pain management
- Self-conscious: If you avoid exercise because you are uncomfortable around others, you are not alone! It’s OK to exercise at home alone for a while and skip the gym if you just are not ready to exercise around other people
- Personal safety: Pay attention to this instinct and find a place to exercise you feel safe
- Injury: Fearing a heart attack or joint injury with exercise can definitely keep motivation low. Learning about how to keep exercise safe is important. Generally it is much safer to exercise than to be sedentary, especially when you find the right type and amount of exercise for your body right now
- Getting enough sleep is essential for weight loss and for enjoying exercise. If you have sleep issues, like sleep apnea, get them under control before setting big goals for exercise
- Exercise can improve sleep quality. Try some light to moderate exercise in the morning or afternoon to see if it helps with sleep issues
- Do the mental fatigue or physical fatigue test -(they can feel the same!) Try 10 minutes of light to moderate exercise. If your energy increases, it was mental fatigue. If you feel more tired it is more likely physical fatigue. In this case stick with several small bouts a day until endurance is improved
- Out of date goals: Trying to get back to doing what you used to do may not be a realistic goal. It might keep you in the vicious cycle of all or nothing exercise. Instead, start slow and gradual with a type of exercise that feels comfortable for your body now. Focus on what is possible right now.
- Lack of Know How: Learning how to exercise the right way is not easy. There are so many exercise programs based upon myths, sports training, assumptions, or folk-lore. It can be difficult to know what is the right way to exercise. Especially when carrying extra weight – the body needs different approaches to movement. Truth is, you are the best expert on your body. Learn from exercise professionals with a degree in exercise or movement science and listen to what is right for your body right now. The combination will lead you to enjoying exercise now and for a long time to come.
- Lack of equipment/Money: Look at all the commercials and infomercials out there and it can seem like it is expensive to exercise. Movement is free and requires very little if any equipment. Your dedication to sticking with it is more important than having great equipment.
I have seen the magic of making these small adjustments in approach to exercise. They can create a strong and lasting relationship that leads to success with weight loss.
Keep Moving, Be Well
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.