I have been a podiatrist for the past 27 years, I have been a health nut, exercise enthusiast and “gym rat” even longer. Over the years I have seen a variety of strange exercise techniques as well as even stranger cardio/exercise procedures and ever more outlandish locker room activities. Having spent five to six days a week training in the gym all these years, there are plenty of yesterdays in the gym. Being a healthcare provider treating the foot and ankle for nearly three decades there are plenty of times I get to see the resulting insult and injury for some of those behaviors I have observed at the gym the day before.
However, not all is lost to my observations of those aberrant quirks that result in detrimental outcomes. I have also seen a lot of excellent technique and beneficial behaviors and have incorporated these to make my workouts and I dare say, my life, better. Let’s face the facts—exercise and keeping yourself in shape is far more advantageous to one’s overall well being then the few temporary set backs to the skeleton or skin that all athletes suffer from time to time. Even with decades of experience, I still subscribe to the “injury of the month club”. However, over time I strive to correct, improve and attempt to perfect my exercises, my treatment of patients and my life. I would say that much of this improvement I owe to that microcosm I choose to spend so much time in “the gym”.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends 60 minutes of exercise daily just to maintain your current weight.
For the purposes of this article my message is not, see you at the gym tomorrow, however the message for today is get started improving your life. Not all exercise is done in the gym. I am not suggesting that my type of exercise is what everyone should do, nor is it the only way to stay in shape.Millions of years of evolution did not produce our arms and legs, heart and lungs to sit at our desk all day and our couches all night. Dependant on you age current health and what you enjoy, raking leaves, taking a brisk walk, playing volleyball or basketball. It is time to start using your body for more than using the Gluteus muscle as a cushion.
Why should you start exercising? Possibly, for others–your children, teammates, co-workers. Don’t let them down. Definitely, for yourself. You may feel better with an improved self-image, more energy, or having powers and abilities far beyond the average couch potato. You can’t let yourself down.
How do you start? From many conversations at the gym the reason most people tell me they are staying in shape is to avoid the relative poor health of generations gone before. Interestingly, that same theme is repeated in my office when I hear, “well I know it is not bad now, but I don’t want to wind up like Grandma Mary.” So maybe you don’t want that early heart attack, the hip replacement or type 2 diabetes. Think about how painful and depressing developing one or all of these ailments would be. Develop the mindset that each and every time you are exercising in some way, you are literally pushing back that illness. Of course I am not ignorant, not everyone will succeed at staving off the family genetic predisposition to illness. However, not everyone goes into marriage anticipating a divorce.
Set a goal. This is important for your exercising, as well, as all the other aspects of your life. Some of the motivational experts will tell you that you have to write it down and keep looking at it. I think they are correct.However, I believe that once you write it and look at it and you can then throw it out. (The paper that is) This is because once your hand has written it, then it is true and therefore you have to follow through. Maybe you want to get below 200 pounds or maybe ever 300 pounds. Maybe you want to run a marathon or just walk around the block in less than 15 minutes. Maybe you want to bench press 315, 225 or just the bar. Maybe you want to dance all night without waking up the next day with your legs killing you. Or maybe you’re like me and want to think that you will still be doing a half hour of cardio, a half hour of weight training and abs and stretching when I am 95.
It is now time to get off the couch and move. Whatever goal you have set, when you reach it you'll feel great. As a matter of fact, once you reach your first goal you will feel so good you should have no problem setting your next objective. It is your mind, your body, and your life...make the most of it.