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Health Fitness

How to like exercise

Is exercise a bitter medicine,

Do you like vegetables that you eat reluctantly?

So you walk on treadmills, climb stairs, and lift weights.

Or run cross country in the summer heat.

Because someone told you that “you have to”

“Burn those calories” and watch what you eat.

But they don’t mention that movement is fun.

And it was never intended to be a track meet.

There’s nothing wrong with walking through a mall,

Or dance or ride a bike down the street.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a pain.

Get it right and it’s fun, short and sweet.

When people think of exercise, they conjure up images of sadistic clipboard-wielding gym teachers, sports coaches, military drill instructors, or personal trainers. Speaking from experience, PE school was often embarrassing for the unfit and the military and some martial arts schools handed out push ups and stress positions on a regular basis. So one’s mind could easily associate exercise with pain and humiliation.

Then there were the first rewards of exercise and sports. Teachers, parents, and fellow students frequently praised school athletes, especially victorious athletes. Athletics brought prestige to schools, parents, and other students.

The problem with early exercise experiences, like high school, is that:

1. Some young people associated exercise with pain, rejection (the last one chosen to play sports) and humiliation.

2. High school athletes were often motivated by competition and external praise. When school finished, they lost the motivation to exercise.

Behavioral psychologist and author of No Breaking A Sweat: How The Simple Science Of Motivation Can Give You A Lifetime Of FitnessMichelle Segar, discovered that people who to enjoy an activity are more likely to stick with it than people who exercise “because they have to” or who want to lose weight.

Segar compared athletes who focused on weight loss and cosmetics (“body shapers”) with those who just exercised for fun (“non-body shapers”). He found that non-body shapers exercised more often, longer and showed greater progress than body shapers. Furthermore, when offered sweets after exercise, the non-body shapers refused rewards with sweets, while the body shapers ate more sweets. When interviewed afterwards, the body shapers felt they deserved more candy for their efforts.

Moral of the story: Find something you enjoy doing and exercise for fun, instead of counting abs and burning calories. This means exercising in a good environment with good company. Then the exercise becomes its own reward and not a bitter medicine.

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