Learning to love exercise is actually pretty easy; all you have to do is participate in activities that you enjoy. Unfortunately, for most, sometimes even that’s not quite enough to keep going on a long term basis. (I love to run, but that doesn't stop me from really hating it and skipping workouts sometimes.)
Inevitably, boredom almost always sets in, and boredom is easily one of the best ways to quickly kill a healthy exercise habit. That’s why variety is equally as important as enthusiasm.
But aside from figuring out which activities you love most and keeping your routine fun and fresh, there’s another step you can take to make sure that your relationship with exercise stays strong.
When I spoke with expert running coach Eric Orton, I asked him what he thought was the one lesson or rule about running that had always held true through all the years he’s spent training and coaching.
I was surprised to find that his insightful answer extends way beyond the realm of running. It applies to all sports, or any type of exercise really.
“For Longevity, become aware of what motivates you,” he said. “Don’t think you need to be motivated in a certain way, like based on your run buddy.”
The simplicity of it all is almost silly; figure out exactly what it is about your favorite activities makes you eager and excited; become more aware. If you’re a runner, maybe that means traveling to different cities for races. If you enjoy group exercise classes, maybe it means being able to do them with friends.
It can even be more than one thing. The possibilities are endless, but the point is to dig a little deeper. Reach beyond the fact that you simply love an activity; find out why.
“Try to avoid repeating the same thing over and over,” Orton said. “Strive for new achievements. Understand what motivates you to make this a long term endeavor and what makes it fun.”
After all, the long term endeavor is what it’s really all about. You’ll only reap the long term benefits of exercise if you make it a consistent part of your life.
Orton also had one more important piece of advice to share: “Don’t think there’s one right way,” he said.
Exercise is about trial and error; finding out what works for you. Don’t forget that what’s effective and sustainable for your friend, may not be ideal for you. What's the cliche? March to the beat of your own drum?