When I was fifteen, I begged my parents to get me a weightlifting bench. After using the barbells and leg press for the first time, I proceeded to use it daily — as a clothes hamper and homework shelf.
It quickly became apparent that whenever I needed or wanted to exercise, I was much more apt to go outside and run around playing baseball or soccer than I was to sit on an uncomfortable bench. It felt ridiculous pushing or pressing heavy objects that could only be moved with great effort, for what I deemed to be a very minimal reward. Shortly after that, I began running regularly and I also found a variety of other physical activities that I continue to enjoy to this day.
Many of us view exercising as a chore or something that’s tough to adhere to consistently, what with hectic work and social agendas. But it doesn’t have to be like this, if you’re able to find an activity that’s both physically enjoyable and that provides an opportunity for you to refresh your mind and outlook. Exercise is not only good for the body, but it also has been found to improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy and enhance self-esteem.
Figuring out what kind of exercise to do is just as important as performing the exercises themselves. This process of finding the right physical activity is what often prevents us from exercising regularly. Too often we don’t take the time to explore other possible activities before creating excuses such as finding it impossible to enjoy the form of exercise we’ve chosen, or being too busy.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to find the right exercise for you.
- Do you have natural movements, habits or hobbies that could be slightly modified into exercise activities?
- Do you prefer exercising on your own or with others?
- Are you more comfortable with a structured activity (like a class) or one where you can go at your own pace?
Once you’ve found the right set of exercises, you’ll likely find the repetitious practice to be enjoyable and you’ll look forward to the activity. As a bonus, the new found energy you get from exercising will make handling your day easier than before. The rewards of the activity aren’t just physical, they’re also mentally beneficial. As a runner, there’s nothing more helpful to my mindset after a stressful day than a good run. The exercise is therapeutic and it also enables my body to relax afterwards so that I can be better prepared the rest of my day.
As exercising becomes more habitual, it can yield even more benefits. Besides the physical and emotional perks, you might be able to save money by walking or biking to work sometimes instead of driving. Exercise could even accelerate your career by giving you opportunities to network through group classes or activities.
Exercising can be a daunting task, but if you’re committed to finding activities that are the right fit for you, it can become a very rewarding one. Many fitness centers and Jewish Community Centers offer one-time free sample classes and short term free memberships that give you chances to try new activities. Running has helped me — what kind of exercise inspires you?
Living a healthy life is important for us all. When you need help, you can turn to Jewish Community Services’ highly trained and experienced mental health professionals. JCS works with families, children, adolescents, couples and adults to develop solutions for life’s challenges and to maintain a healthy perspective on life.
Call 410-466-9200 for more information.