Does Exercise Have to Be In the Gym?

There’s differences between what we enjoy and what we need.

Sometimes we luck out and we happen to enjoy things that we need. I need nutrients and I happen to enjoy brussels sprouts, asparagus, fruit and most protein sources.

However sometimes we really don’t enjoy things that we need. Like visits to the dentist, cardiovascular activity, carrots and opting for an extra hour of sleep instead of another episode on Netflix.

In the era of radical self-acceptance (which is largely positive) it could be easy to portray overeating cake, skipping a week of workouts and never lifting a weight as “listening to our body”.

But, like it or not, there are some healthy behaviors that are non-negotiable.

  1. A nutritious diet + adequate water intake.
  2. Adequate sleep + stress management.
  3. Cardiovascular activity for heart health + resistance training for muscle mass and bone density preservation.

The third point is what I want to focus on.

I’ve said “I don’t do cardio” or “I hate running” more times than I can count. But despite how I feel about cardiovascular activity, it’s good and necessary for my overall heart health. (Getting a Fitbit that tells my about my heart rate has made me painfully aware of this fact.)

Looking at the bright side: cardio (running stairs & incline sprints) can get me to views like this.

I’ve often let myself look the other way with rationale like “I strength train 6x/week!” or “I track macros/eat at healthy, balanced diet” or “I’m at a healthy weight for my height”. But with my clients, I identify ways that they can optimize their health or things they might be neglecting.

If I look at myself, I realize that I need to do more cardio because it’s good for me. And I will, I promise 🙂

But that means that you, out there somewhere, need to be resistance training. Sarcopenia and osteopenia/osteoporosis are no joke. And there’s more than enough research (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) to convince you that your quality of life will be better as you age if you are not a flimsy noodle.

Yes, exercise should be enjoyed and a celebration of what your body can do rather than a punishment. So remind yourself of all the good it’s doing for you and how you care enough about yourself to include strength training in your routine.

Another bonus, when you kind of suck at something (or are new to something) there’s lots of room for improvement. So make a note of where your starting point is so you can look back in 3 months and see how far you’ve come!

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