Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Exercise is not punishment

"Drop and give me 20!"

No one really needs to question, 20 of what? Pushups. And you sure aren't being told to do them as a reward.

Similarly, people will assign themselves exercise. "I ate too much cake, so I have to jog tomorrow in the rain." "I haven't been going to the gym, so starting today I'll go every day." That's not conducive to a good plan, good consistency, and good results.

Exercise is not punishment. That bears repeating and stress. Exercise is not punishment.

Why do we think it is?

Fatigue duties in the military might be a root cause - that extra work you get as a punishment. I'm sure gym class has something to do with it, too. For non-jocks, PE class was a nightmare. Squat-thrusts, pushups, extra pushups as a penalty for not doing pushups correctly. Dodgeball and "touch" football with bigger kids, teams tossed together so you played as much with the kids you didn't like as the ones you did. Physical fitness tests and climbing that rope while everyone watches. Then tack on popular culture putting "diet and exercise" into the "must do" category instead of the "get to do" category.

It does not have to be this way.

My uncle Carmine used to tell us,

"It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do, and you like what you do."

He was talking about work, and the importance of having a job you like. But it applies equally well to exercise.

If you like to walk or run or play basketball but hate the gym, it doesn't matter much if weight training would be better for you. If you won't do it, it's not worth sticking it in your exercise plan. If the thought of jogging fills you with loathing, but dragging a sled sounds exciting, don't jog, get a sled.

The first step in an exercise program is getting out and doing it. Picking something you like to get out and do will help. You may find yourself having to resist doing it instead of forcing yourself to do it.

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