When you were a child and went out to play, what did you do? Most of us were bouncing balls, jumping rope, and racing through the neighborhood playing tag. When the street lights came on you’d beg Mom for five more minutes, just five more minutes! As an adult when you go out to exercise, what do you do? Many people find the most boring thing on the planet, an exercise machine in a windowless room, and plod through their workout muttering, “five more minutes, it’s only five more minutes.”
Nowadays we pay big money for someone to yell at us while we bounce balls, jump rope and race around. We call it boot camp. Why do we no longer equate exercise with play? According to the American Council on Exercise, the primary reasons adults give for not exercising regularly are boredom, lack of results, injuries, and lack of time (ACE, Fitness matters, Volume 13, Mar/Apr 2007, p.14). Let’s address each one and see if we can put the play back into your day.
BOREDOM AND LACK OF RESULTS
I’m going to address these two together because I believe they are related. If the exercise you’ve chosen is boring to you and the only reason you are doing it is to lose weight or get “vanity” muscles, you probably won’t stick with it. It might be okay for a while but, honestly, unless you’re 23 you’re probably not going to look like a Victoria Secret model or Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday just from exercising. Exercise is one component of a healthy lifestyle. It can’t be isolated and expected to do miracles.
What if you tackled this a different way and started to explore activities that you might really like to do? For example, a friend of mine began playing tennis and she really looked forward to her exercise sessions. As she progressed in her sport she joined a league. Because of the competition, she became interested in improving her game. My friend did a little research and discovered that if she improved her aerobic capacity and her running skills it would give her an edge. So, she hit the trail with a training goal in mind and running was no longer boring. When she saw the great results running had on her game, she was inspired to go to the gym two days a week to improve her swing by strength training. One day she put on her tennis shorts and they fell off because she had lost so much weight. She played her way to her desired end and in the process discovered a new joy in life that will stay with her for years.