The Pleasure Principle

Summer is upon us and we’re scrambling to get into shape. So I thought I would talk about one of the most important aspects of any fitness program, pleasure.
If you like it, you’ll do it. If you don’t, you won’t.
The popular trend right now in the fitness industry is boot camp style workouts that basically whip you into shape.
This type of exercise may be some people’s idea of fun, but for many of us who have had trouble getting or staying on an exercise program it’s just not sustainable.
Exercise should be a pleasure not a chore.
That thought played over and over in my head as I watched two distinct sets of bicyclists on their daily rides.
Near where I live there is a road that has two bike paths on it. There is one for serious touring bikers and one for slower traffic.

The serious group is just that, SERIOUS! – Featherweight bikes with drop handle bars, tiny seats and pedals that require clip-on shoes. They wear flaming color form fitting hi-tech clothes that slip the air, wick the sweat and have hidden pockets for keys and snacks.
They stream along at high speed, and with their bodies bent over for aerodynamic position, helmeted heads lurched forward, they look like a flock of supersonic tropical birds. There is a grimace on every face, but this is the type of exercise they enjoy.
They’re working hard and wouldn’t have it any other way. Young or old, these athletes are in top condition.
However, just a few feet away, an endless parade of more leisurely exercisers ambles along, peddling merrily, sitting up right, zinging their bells, smiling and chatting. They wouldn’t have it any other way either.

Are the amblers as fit as the racers? – Probably not. But is their daily moderate exercise enough to reap most of the health benefits exercise has to offer? – Probably so.
Research clearly shows that you don’t have to be an athlete to be fit enough to be healthy and live longer.

Then there’s burnout. If you don’t enjoy it you’ll quit.
So many of us try to do too much and end up doing nothing.
Pleasure is the key to success.
Find a physical activity you like or at least don’t hate and pursue it with pleasure. Stay in your comfort zone and if you do, exercise will become something you look forward to instead of dread.
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2 thoughts on “The Pleasure Principle

  1. You make an excellent point. For me, however, I have more of a mental struggle. I want to reclaim my former athlete self. I used to run not only for physical, but mental health. But after giving birth to twins and osteoarthritis in both knees, I can't find a good way to start, build and sustain.

    I'm in an endless cycle of failed diet and exercise. at 45 years old, I want my life back. where do I go from here?

  2. Hello Silagh,
    It's not hopeless; you just have to find the right starting place.
    If you have a pool close by you may want to try some exercise in the water like aquacise classes or swimming. (if you swim you'll need to modify your stroke to keep pressure off your knees)
    You can also do upper body strength training on land seated.
    If you belong to a gym check out the UBE machine (upper body ergonometer) You can get a serious cardio workout without using your legs at all.
    It also helps to exercise with a friend. Above all ease-in and pamper yourself. Stay in your comfort zone and build from where ever you are now.
    Stay in touch; let me know how you are doing.
    Yours in health,

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