Developing Long-term Compliance with Exercise
Despite the fantastic benefits of aerobic exercise, you may still see exercising as an unpleasant and uncomfortable chore. If so, you need to learn how to make it fun! Exercising should you give you the same feeling of rejuvenation and revitalization as dancing to your favorite music does. In fact, we strongly recommend that you listen to your
favorite music while you perform aerobic exercise. Listening to upbeat songs will make continuous movement feel natural. Jazz dancing and aerobic dance classes, which are always accompanied by music, are great forms of aerobic exercise.
When you first start an exercise program, you will probably have to take firm charge of your body. If you haven't been exercising regularly, your body will be weak, tired, and addicted to the foods and behaviors that kept you out of shape. Listening to your body at this point won't do you any good. It will dictate terms that would keep you fat or out of shape. As Newton so aptly stated, "A body at rest stays at rest." You must, therefore, write down a fitness goal and decide how you're going to fit exercise into your schedule. What would work best for you? A morning walk, an evening jog, perhaps a workout at lunch-time? Make your exercise times convenient, so that you will be more inclined to stick to them.
If your body is still reluctant, then it's up to your mind to force it into action. Exercise even when you don't feel like it. If you can get your body into action at times like these, in a matter of minutes both your body and mind will both feel better. We guarantee it!
Some people start their exercise programs believing that exercise hurts or is unpleasant. Don't equate mild discomfort at the beginning of a program with the way you feel about exercise itself. Go beyond the superficial; look deeper and ask yourself how you really feel, knowing that you are improving your wellness through exercise. You will probably begin to realize the power and control you can gain over your life by adhering to a regular program of exercise. Instinctively, you know it is the right thing to do for you. And once the exercise program becomes a part of your life, the unpleasantness will only be a memory.
Improved psychological wellbeing is one of the major benefit is of exercise. Take advantage of the runner's high, that pleasurable feeling that kicks in 20-30 minutes into an aerobic workout. View your aerobic times as wellness time – time to clear your head, move your body, and get a physical and psychological lift. Enjoy the moment. Try to see exercise as an opportunity to recharge your battery.
Physical activity can change your mood. Learn to anticipate the positive feeling of wellbeing that comes from exercising. Don't let glum days, down days, depressing days, or boring days get you down. Exercise is a good way to leave those self-destructive emotions behind and to get on with the happy, positive life you deserve.
If you're still not convinced about the positive, uplifting benefits provided by aerobic exercise, then we challenge you to take the Mood Test that follows:
1. Choose a day on which you should really exercise, but you
feel too lethargic or low-spirited.
2. Rate your mood on a scale of one to ten. One signifies total
depression. For absolute elation, score a 10 (lucky you!).
3. Follow through with your aerobic exercise program, even
though you don't feel like doing it.
4. Now rate your mood again. If you have been honest with yourself,
I am positive that your score will be substantially higher than
before you exercised.
Remember, never to push yourself to exhaustion. A patient of ours who started out overweight and out of shape now runs marathons a few times a year. He says that when he jogs, he concentrates on the idea of conserving his energy. He intentionally never pushes himself to the point of pain or exhaustion because he knows that he will have a negative reaction, both physically and psychologically. "I want to wake up tomorrow and look forward to my exercise session. I don't want to dread it," he says. If you push yourself too hard, it makes sense that you would be tired and resentful about exercising the next time. And your psychological outlook and day-to-day energy have everything to do with staying on track.
Pushing yourself too hard is detrimental to your health and wellbeing, but there isn't anything wrong with challenging yourself a little bit. You'll feel good about yourself if you follow through. Remaining faithful to an aerobic exercise requires perseverance and dedication. Vince Lombardi said, "I never knew a man worth his salt who deep down in his heart did not appreciate the grind and discipline necessary to become a champion." The inner feeling of success and achievement remains long after the mild discomfort of exercise ends.
How do you know you won't enjoy a regular aerobic exercise program if you don't try it? Give yourself a chance to experience the physical and mental benefits. Decide now to stay with an aerobic program for at least eight consecutive weeks. We're sure that it will become a positive and permanent feature in your life. You will come to rely on it as a source of rejuvenation.
Dr. James Meschino D.C., M.S., N.D.
The Winning Weigh. Meschino and Simon, 1993, Elite Publishing, Toronto.