Workout Tip #2: It Takes Two (or more)

For most people, difficult events in life are easier with the help of others. And, fun and exciting events are often more so when shared with other people. Working out qualifies as difficult for most people, even if it’s not on the level of a life changing event. Sticking with a workout is often more difficult still. And, for many people, working out and sticking with it will become easier with a friend.

For some, this could be having a workout partner. Usually, this works best when the person you exercise with is at a similar level. For example, my brother and I would typically do the same workout at graduate school. We were nearly equal in stamina and helped motivate each other to push harder. People of very unequal abilities may not benefit as much since the experience could be frustrating.

For those who are workout loners, a friend could still be beneficial by keeping you accountable or inspired. A good friend who reminds you (gently) to hit the gym or inspires you through his or her own actions is invaluable. Even if you don’t workout at the same time, you can still support each other.

Having a friend who shares your interest in working out could also open up a whole new set of options. Games like tennis, squash, racketball, basketball, football, etc. cannot be played alone. In the case of the last two, having several people would be a plus. But, at least two people could pass the football or play one on one. One on none isn’t quite the same.

So, call up a friend, a relative, or even your spouse. It may help you become healthier and more fit.

Workout Tip #1: Do What Works

I used to think that running, especially over long distances, was the measure of a person’s athletic and fitness abilities. I’m not sure why exactly, perhaps because it seemed that good runners looked athletic. So, I would force myself to run and get bored out of my mind. Then, I’d quit running. And since running was exercise, I also quit exercise.

From a logical perspective this is called “fallacious” thinking, specifically a “straw man” argument. I setup running in my mind as the only proper exercise and when I couldn’t run, I thus, couldn’t exercise. It was silly thinking, but it truly hindered my exercise. I had to create a “clean slate” with exercise and working out and you may have to as well.

First, exercise is simply burning calories. Granted, it can be intense, moderate, or weak, but burning calories is burning calories. So, while you may burn more calories playing an intense game of squash than walking for thirty minutes, if you hate squash and don’t play it, the 100 calories you burn from walking is better than the 0 calories you burn from not playing squash (even if those who do play squash would burn 400 calories in the same amount of time).

Second, remember your age. Just because you were a basketball stud in high school doesn’t mean you need to run out and join the nearest pickup game at age 48. While that may be an excellent way to get in shape, it may also be an excellent way to get so sore the next day that you give up exercising for another 30 years. Basically, you may need to reinvent what exercise means for you. I say “may” because perhaps you can exercise the way you used to. Most of us probably can’t; if anything we don’t have time for 3 hour practices 5 days a week with games on the off days.

Finally, and related to one and two, keep an open mind. Trying new exercises will keep your routines more interesting and you’ll stop your muscles from getting used to the same old stuff (this is a good thing, btw). Plus, you may find something you actually love to do. For example, I never knew how relaxing and and exhilarating cross country skiing could be until I tried it.

Today, I actually enjoy running, at least outdoors (treadmills still bore me to tears). I admire those hardcore runners, but realize that I don’t need to be one myself.