Friday, February 21, 2014

Top tips for enjoying exercise

Running: just 'cause we can
I was asked by the UK's Cosmopolitan magazine for my tips on how to actually enjoy exercise. My answers are now online, but I've also pasted them here:
Hide your scales 
"Yes, exercise can help us to lose weight. (I lost thirty kilograms. That's five large bowling balls.) But that's not what keeps us exercising. The best part of fitness is the experience itself: the reverie of jogging, the sublime joy of swimming, the oneness of yoga. Exercise can enhance and enrich our minds. So let's put away the scales, and stop talking about weight. It's a distraction from many of the benefits of fitness." 
Keep experimenting 
"Because fitness is seen as a duty, we often get stuck doing exercises we loathe. This isn't always bad: consistency can be a wonderful thing. But it's vital to keep experimenting with new sports and exercises. Sick of jogging? Try a quick sprint or swim. Bored with weights? Try kettle bells. I tried indoor rock climbing for the first time, and was humbled by its subtleties. My reward (after the sore, swollen arms) was a brilliant feeling of timelessness and freedom. Treat exercise, not as a dull job, but as an adventure." 
Try homemade 
"Gyms have fantastic equipment and trainers. But they can also be intimidating, expensive or hard to get to. (And then there's the music.) One good way to exercise regularly and enjoyably is to work it into everyday life. Do yoga or Pilates stretches while you watch television. Take a moment to yourself, and jog up the office stairs. (Sweat plus solitude!) I have a pull-up bar in the doorway of my study: thirty of these takes the jitters out of long writing sessions." 
Take notes
"It can be tough to remember the pleasures of exercise. Stuck to a desk chair, staring at the screen, we forget how awesome it feels to stretch, leap and lift. Buffed celebrities in magazines don't always help: they show us what bodies look like from the outside, but not how they feel from the inside. After a jog or gym session, jot down a few lines on your experiences. Did you feel strong, free, proud, humble? This isn't about chasing a 'personal best' -- its about remembering the best of exercise." 
(Photo: detail from Deutsche Photothek)

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