It’s spring and although this winter was more mild than many we can remember, this is truly the time of year when many are inspired to get outside and move more. For some harried business types, fitness can devolve into simply trying to increase the number of steps walked each day. For fitness enthusiasts, fitness comes in the form of alternating workouts to maximize performance, improve strength, or achieving fitness goals.
What do you think of when you consider fitness? Wherever we fall on the spectrum with our exercise and state of fitness, our levels of physical fitness are directly proportionate to the amount of work and effort we put into it, just like any other area of our lives. Take a moment and ask yourself - how often do you exercise and do you consider yourself fit? If the answer is no to either one of these, you have an opportunity to make changes in your life that can greatly improve your health, vitality, and energy.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you get to make the decision about how active you are in your life. In our society, it can be very easy to be sedentary. We can drive through restaurants to pick up food, be lulled into sitting on the couch for our entertainment to watch TV or movies, and we spend tremendous hours at work.
Last year when I was traveling, I watched in wonderment to see individuals spending hours each morning fishing in the ocean for their breakfast. Because money was so scarce, if fish weren’t caught, the family would have nothing to eat. Cars were a sign of true privilege that few had, so supplies and groceries required lengthy walks. Even things that here in the U.S. would require little effort or energy took a tremendous amount of effort. Everyone participated, from the young to the old, whether it was getting supplies to selling their wares. It was an eye opening experience to consider what life would be like in places of the world where the focus of daily living must be placed on activities just to survive.
Here in the U.S. though, our society is very different. Our schedules are full, stress is high, and simply stated, many of us seem to live our lives in a continual state of some measure of anxiety. For many living that kind of life, particularly given our economic challenges the past several years, fitness is not something that rises high on the priority list.
While there is no question that in general, things have been challenging the last several years, I’ve also noticed an incredible change overall in our society. Many, many more people are becoming more invested and active in their efforts to live a happier, healthier life. We take more time to evaluate whether a decision feels right for us. We investigate and research different approaches on the internet. We read reviews of what others have experienced, and we’re becoming more discerning with what decisions will take us closer to our goals.
In the U.S., we are busy, there’s no doubt about it. But are we busy to the extent that our own health is at risk? Given our recent statistics in obesity, diabetes, and other health markers, the answer is undoubtedly yes. The blessing, however, is that we have the ability to choose differently.
The first thing to consider is what fitness means to you. What would it mean to you to be in better health for more years? Could your life feel better or different to you if you had more energy and more strength? People stop moving for all kinds of reasons. The typical reasons range anywhere from being too busy, too tired, too stressed out, to not liking to exercise and any number of reasons in between. Perhaps you used to exercise at one time in your life but fell into a pattern of becoming sedentary over time. If you fall into that category, really take a moment to consider why you don’t currently exercise.
I’ve talked with fitness experts who sound remarkably like many of the nutrition experts I know. In general, you’re not going to drop dead tomorrow by not eating well and not exercising. Our bodies are remarkably resilient and try to counteract our actions to the best of its ability. Over time, however, these experts say, the body becomes less able to combat what we’re doing to it. If you’re in relatively good health, the time to make the changes to your lifestyle that can help you achieve a greater sense of health and well being is before those unhealthy habits begin to take a toll in ways that can’t be easily reversed.
We only get one body in this lifetime and while the body can be very forgiving and possesses remarkable abilities to heal itself, we really must care for it. The human body is designed to move and while we can’t, without machines, see into our internal organs to easily assess the impact of our actions, our bodies will give us signals over time that we need to make changes.
If you look at your life and know that you aren’t as active as you want to be, make a different choice. Change is simply a different choice in action. If you’re already active and happy with your state of fitness, great! If you’re not, think of the tremendous gift you can give to yourself, your life, your loved ones, simply by choosing to make a change. Our lives are lived each day, moment to moment, with change just a decision away.
So, you may ask, what do you do if you don’t have the money to afford a gym or a personal trainer? What if you have a physical limitation or health challenge that prevents you from the type of exercise that you’d really love to do? Luckily there are resources all around us that don’t cost a thing. The biggest obstacle that stands in our way when we really desire change is simply one thing - the internal decision and commitment to make a different choice.
If you can’t afford a gym or a personal trainer, start by making the commitment to yourself to simply move more. That may mean getting up from your desk more frequently at work, opting to take the stairs rather than an elevator, parking farther away from the entrance to buildings. There are all kinds of ways to increase the amount you move throughout the day.
The benefits of embracing more exercise in your life are tremendous. And it can be fun. If your life is hectic, try a form of yoga or Pilates, or even brisk nature walks that can help to reconnect you with nature. Look around you and find inspiration, a goal, a mentor, a buddy to work out with and to cheer you on. Start small and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your strength and endurance improves. Take time to appreciate your new commitment and the journey along the way to a new you!
Wherever you are on your journey, if it’s not where you want to be, take a chance, make a choice and begin an entirely new path in becoming more of whom you want to be in the world! You deserve it!