Exercise is defined as “something practiced to develop a specific skill”. (Webster Dictionary). Exercise by definition is practice. We all know that when we practice something regularly we will improve, when we stop practicing, we are much more likely to lose that skill. So consistency of practice is part of what makes something an exercise.
Somewhere along the way we have developed this idea that pain means progress with exercise. It seems to stem from two sources. One is the mix up between exercise and athletic training. Athletes need to keep that competitive edge. They need to push their body beyond its limits. That means they probably will encounter pain at some point in that training. Exercise for health and athletic training are not one in the same. Exercise for health benefits, like weight loss, cannot be painful if we want motivation to be sustainable.
The second source seems to be from fitness programs that are designed to sell. You see, the fact that your body changes slowly is not very marketable. Can you imagine an infomercial selling you on the fact that your progress will be slow? It would be a sure fire way to lose money! What sells is quick results. For many things in life, it is true that the harder you work, the more progress you will see. With exercise though, the point where that is no longer true is very low. Your body can only adapt to a 10% per week. Push beyond that and you are more likely to hindering progress by encountering pain. Ten percent is not much. It is certainly not marketable. When an exercise program ignores the science of how your body works, pain needs to be marketed as “progress”, or it wouldn’t sell. When you work with how your body is designed, sustainable progress is much more likely.
There is no evidence that pain means you are getting stronger or more fit any faster. In fact, it means you are more likely to quit that program because of discouragement or injury.
Exercise = practice = consistency.
Pain is not progress. It is quite the opposite when it comes to the true meaning of the word exercise. When exercise leaves you feeling good, its a practice you want to keep doing, and that leads to results that lasts.
Keep moving, be well,