By Brett Lillie
We have a genuine love and hate relationship with exercise. We all seem to know the benefits that come with keeping the body active, yet some of us truly enjoy the process and the feeling we’re left with after a workout, while others think of it as a chore, a painful but necessary evil that needs to be done. Most of us lie somewhere in between. We go through ups and downs, periods of high and low activity, excitement and boredom. It really boils down to how much time, energy and motivation is left in the tank at the end of each day.
That’s the trap a lot of us fall into. Based on the latest available data, over 3 in 10 (35%) adults aged 18–64 aren’t meeting the recommended amount of exercise with researchers at Duke University’s School of Medicine suggesting that physical decline begins in our 50s (ABS 2022b). As we join the 40s and 50s club, we are often too exhausted to fit it all in so we exercise less, or stop altogether. It’s understandable. Life is busy, it’s often chaotic. On one hand we have work, family and responsibilities that inevitably put us to the bottom of the priority list. On the other, we know we are getting older, we might experience aches and pains and we feel we can’t do it anymore, or we are just not bothered. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Lets take a look at 5 tips to rekindle your love for exercise so you too can reap the benefits that come with enjoying an active lifestyle.
1. Shift the way you think about exercise
My wife Lisa hates the word exercise and feels it is just another stressful thing to pile on to her to-do list. So she calls it “getting a groove on” and now associates it with being active, jiggling, dancing – all movements that resonate with her – rather than a task. Even Olympian Cathy Freeman has a word for it: body practice. Be creative and be kind to yourself. Exercise should be all about moving with joy, not something you dread. Pay attention to your thinking, your language and give exercise a meaning that sits well with you; make it yours.
2. Rediscover what you used to like doing
Think back to a time when you were being active just because it came natural to you and it was just part of who you were. The past is your teacher so use it, dig deep and find all those magic moments where you were active just being you. What were you doing? Who were you with? Was it a sport or simply a play in the backyard? Was it a walk with friends or a competition? Was it skipping, dribbling, riding, climbing, lifting, singing. You’ll start seeing patterns in your past that can reveal your inclinations and the reasons why you loved doing that so much, why it made your heart sing.
3. Connect to that feeling
Freedom, spontaneity, ease, happiness, success, achievement, fun: whatever feeling you experienced when you were active, it’s time to go back to it and use it to your advantage. When you connect to this feeing, you have a much better chance at changing your habits, start exercising and keep going. What activity could you do now that would bring that feeling, YOUR feeling, back to the surface?
4. Find your own pace on your own terms
The trick for setting yourself up for success is to find your own pace and start on your own terms. Look at where you’re at now: if you haven’t exercised for a while it might not be wise to sign up for the next marathon. So start small. Just go for a quick 15 minutes walk and then work towards small increments. Build up to a hike. Decide what works for you and what you can actually achieve. When you are able to close the gap between expectations (where you think you should be) and reality (where you actually are), that’s where the magic happens, that’s where your true YOU shines.
5. Share it – the power of many
This is the oldest trick in the book: if you tell someone you’re going to do it then…you will do it! Accountability is a powerful tool that even elite athletes use. They have their team, so find your own: move with your kids, your friends, your dog, your spouse. Make the time you spend exercising compelling, worth it, something you look forward to. I often go for a quick walk around the block with my wife; that’s when we get unstuck, ideas pop and we connect, think more about what we want for us and our family. Some of my clients exercise with a friend then celebrate with a cuppa and a catch up. Enjoy.
Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a sought-after speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and find their mojo so they can live their best life.
To find out more about Dr Brett’s programs, go to his website www.brettlillie.com