While we all know that exercise is important for good health, there is still a misunderstanding in our boarder community about what exercise ACTUALLY is. Generally, we all see exercise as running, going to bootcamps or the gym. If we want to lose weight, it has to be the “no pain, no gain” mentality or alternatively The Black and White of Exercise. The higher the intensity the better, and if you aren’t collapsing at the end, you didn’t work hard enough! If we aren’t up to that standard, then we simply give up on trying because anything we do is not good enough.
In my clinic I often hear many comments such as ‘I don’t exercise… but I walk every day’. Since when did walking fall off the realm of ‘exercise’? Why is this belief still here in this day and age? It was 1982 when Jane Fonda used the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ in her workout videos, why haven’t we moved on?
I call this mentality the ‘all or nothing’ of exercise. We are so black and white about it. We are either on top of our game, or we are not, and there is no in between. This is often cycled with yo-yo dieting and weight loss and subsequent gain. Our beliefs about ourselves and our bodies stem from our ability to conform with society – if we aren’t fit, we are unhealthy. If we are fat, we are unhealthy. It is this cycle of ‘all or nothing’ that shatters self-esteem. If we can’t feel good about our bodies, why bother fueling it well? Why bother looking after it at all?
I would like to remind you that there are shades of grey.
Exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Exercise can be slow and gentle. Exercise can be kind on an aching body. Exercise can be relative to how you feel, on the day. It doesn’t have to be running. It doesn’t have to be crossfit. If can be whatever you need it to be!
If you are injured, you can modify your exercise to your injury needs. If you are living with a chronic condition that slows you down, work to your capabilities, and not someone else’s. If all you can manage is a 15 min walk – then do it! Yes, it does count as exercise and it does matter! By practicing, you will only get better.
Keep the following quote in mind:
“More is better than less, and less is better than none”. Anon.
This means that any little bit is better than nothing at all, and doing more is even better! Being consistent, will give you greater gains over the long term. You will reduce the risk of injuring yourself or burning out by going too hard too soon. You will minimise feelings of failure by not trying to keep up with others. You will exercise because you enjoy it, not because you need to loose weight. You will have a clear understanding of your boundaries because you have stopped to listen to what your body has to say! When your brain and body work as a team, you are set for success!
You never know, one day you may find yourself running, doing bootcamp or going to the gym if that is what you WANT to do, but you may find that simply walking outside is just as beneficial!