The best exercise for you is that one that you will DO.
Notice I didn’t mention any particular type, sport or specific activity.
Because you are unique.
And what suits your best friend might not work for you.
You might love to see your partner having a great time getting into their favorite sport, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to stick with it.
So how do you know what will get you going and keep you going?
Remember back when you were a kid? You would just do things. You never thought to yourself, “What are the relative merits of learning tennis or netball compared to athletics?”
My guess is you just picked up a racquet, or took some shots at the net.
And then kept going with the activity you preferred.
You played tag and ball games, took up the skipping rope or pretended you were a champion sprinter.
Nobody told you to do it, you just did it. You were led merely by your curiosity and excitement. If you liked something, you just did it.
We get so caught up in work, family. pleasing other people, and noticing the latest trend or what others are doing that we forget to do the things we enjoy for ourselves.
So sit down with a pen and paper and did what most busy people do: write a list.
This is a list with a difference.
It’s a list of sports and active endeavours that you WANT to do. That you find fun. Or interesting. Or activities that you lose yourself in.
Don’t judge yourself or any of the things that you put on the list.
You’re not committed to doing anything you write on that list. It’s just a starting point.
It might take a few hours, days (or even weeks) to get more than several items. *
And that’s OK.
If you feel a bit stuck, try the following:
take note of what skills you use in your spare time, pay attention to any characteristics or strengths that are mentioned frequently by others or that you notice you spend a lot of time doing.
Remember what you loved doing as a child. …
What games did others used to say you were good at, or looked a little scared when they had to play against you?
What physically challenging situations were you able to get through that made you feel the most accomplished or earned you recognition?
What sports did you find yourself feeling annoyed about stopping, especially if someone tried to talk you out of what you are doing. (Such as ”stop wasting time on that”)
What things made you laugh when you were already out of breath?
Try to take notice of the times when you feel invigorated or successful — those moments might be the product of you putting your natural talents to use.
And it might not be related to a particular sport or exercise – it might be that the ENVIRONMENT or the PEOPLE WHO TEND TO DO TO THAT ACTIVITY might lift your spirits, or help you feel connected, or get you into a flow state where you don’t notice time passing.
At other times, it could be a series of movements or tasks that require you to exert yourself to get a desired result – or to get you feeling like you’re IN CONTROL again, especially if you’re often stressed or overwhelmed.
Another clue for the kinds of physical activities that might to put into your fitness plans are those that you don’t get bothered by having to do the preparation or the petty tasks within the activity, as you’re focussing on the task at hand and not thinking about other things whilst you’re doing it.
A method for finding some of the most suitable ways to exercise is revealed in those physical activities where you find yourself in a state of flow. You already know this feeling. It’s when you are completely tied up in what you are doing and you lose track of time because you are so engaged and stimulated in your activity. It could be gardening, hiking, bike riding, yoga, golf, and any other physical demanding tasks you might find yourself enjoying.
Pick one thing from your list and set yourself an appointment to give it a go again.
If you enjoyed it this time around, or found it interesting or curious, try it a second, third or even a fourth time. If you want a change, do the same thing again with the next item on your list.
Or if you feel really stuck in a rut, set an appointment for one new activity you have never tried before
You might be surprised at the stuff you find enjoyable.
Ideally, you want to set time for this daily. I completely understand that this is difficult to do. At a bare minimum, you want to schedule it in weekly.
Personally, I like to set aside two to three days every week to go for a walk or a ride on my bike. But sometimes if I don’t have time for that, I like to go for a quick run in the large park near my home.
When you’ve found a keystone physical activity, even if you only have a spare fifteen minutes to do it, you’ll find the time just flies by, and it only feels like five minutes.
*There’s a bit of a caveat here – if you have a particular need or desire to improve your heart health, or to lose a significant amount of fat, you’ll need to choose one or more activities that really get you puffing, or your heart rate up, so that your heart-lung system will get a workout along with your muscles and joints. Oftentimes it will be the intensity, or how hard you push yourself in the activity, that will build fitness in your heart and lungs rather than the activity you choose.
If you have any questions about this, send me an email and I’ll get back to you with an answer.
Now that you’ve got some idea of the activities you might use as your go-to moves, we’ll proceed to the next part….