If you’re like the majority of people alive on this planet today, you know that you should be incorporating some kind of physical activity into your day to get (and stay) healthy. But it’s hard.
And the sheer number of choices when you’re deciding what kind of exercise? That’s just plain overwhelming.
Crossfit. Yoga. Cycling. Swimming. Strength training. Running. Agility training. Etcetera(s), almost without end.
And if you narrow it down to a single one of those, you run into even more questions.
Should you run, or jog? Should your yoga be hot and sweaty (Bikram style), power vinyasa style, or something a little more laid back? How often should you exercise? And, should you alternate types — say, strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, alternating with cardio? But then do you take a rest day?
And no matter which way you turn, there’s someone shouting from the rooftops that their exercise program is the best. If you’re not doing Crossfit, you’re not one of the cool kids. Everyone should be doing lots of yoga. Swimming is the best because it’s low impact on your joints…
The list goes on and on.
There’s a reason that there’s a kinesiology major in college… you can make an entire career out of figuring out what kind of exercise is best for any given person.
So it’s understandable that sometimes just the act of trying to decide what to do can cause you to say “eff it. I don’t have time to figure this out.”
But really, it boils down to one thing.
Life should be fun — exercise should be the same
Mark Sisson believes that “the single best exercise there is, hands down, is the one you’ll do.”
If you don’t enjoy the type of exercise that you think you should be doing, it’s awfully hard to get motivated to do it.
You’ve probably figured out by now that this series is all about embracing your fierce, awesome, and totally unique inner unicorn.
Last week, it was nutrition. This week, we’re moving on to how you move your body, and the guidance is going to sound really similar.
Lots of choices is a good thing
Maybe you’ve never actually been to a yoga class. Try one out (or several, with different teachers and different styles) and see if you like it. If not, try the next thing.
- Swim some laps.
- Ride your bike around town instead of driving.
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Try a Crossfit class.
- Work in your garden.
- Go kayaking with some friends.
The list of possibilities is huge — so instead of getting overwhelmed by all of the choices, take a minute to write down a few types of exercise that sound fun, and then give them a try.
If something doesn’t feel like a good fit after a couple of sessions, drop it from the list.
And for anything that you really enjoy, make time in your schedule to keep doing it!
Listen to your body, and stay safe
As you’re exploring all of the amazing ways that your body can move, it’s important to listen to what it’s telling you.
Yes, any new exercise routine is going to potentially be a little bit uncomfortable as you’re getting started. But you should never experience severe pain from exercising.
You’re not an Olympic athlete, and your career isn’t riding on being in super-human shape, so don’t push yourself past your limits. Explore the edges, but don’t push too far — there’s always tomorrow, to see if you can go a little further.
Pain is not “weakness leaving the body”. It’s your body, telling you that you’re doing something it really doesn’t like.
Unlike the fight or flight response (which doesn’t really do us a whole lot of good in our modern world that’s free of saber-tooth tigers and high likelihood of sudden death), our pain response is one biological mechanism that we should be thankful for.
Ease into new types of exercise. Start with beginner classes. Take your time, and ask the instructor questions if you’re not sure about something (teachers and trainers really don’t mind when people come up after class with questions).
Similar to listening to how your body feels when you eat something, take a listen to how you feel while you’re working out, after you finish up, and into the next day or two.
Once you get past the initial discomfort or soreness of any new exercise, you should feel (mostly) great after a good session.
Consistency is key
Like most things in life, keeping some kind of movement in your daily life is what makes all the difference.
You don’t have to have a regimented fitness routine to stay healthy, with every single day planned out in advance, and an iron-clad agreement in place that you must stick to under penalty of noogies.
It’s as easy as “hey, maybe I’ll go to a yoga class today” or “it’s going to be really nice at lunch — I should take a walk during my lunch break” or even “instead of sitting on the couch and watching a movie, let’s have some wild sex.”
Mix it up. Have fun.
But most importantly? Get off your ass and get moving!
Because really, if you’re already a unicorn (hint: you are), you deserve to take full advantage of your awesomeness.
With a little bit of time and some self study, you can become the best unicorn you can be. Nutrition, exercise — it’s all part of living as a happy, healthy, totally magnificent… human being.
So, what kind of exercise sounds like fun for your inner unicorn? And how can you start to incorporate it into your daily life?