When in Doubt . . . Exercise

Eric and Kyle doing lat pulls

Boy, my clients keep getting younger and younger. Just for fun, I thought I’d share a pic from 2008 of my oldest son and me. Now Kyle, 12 going on 20 years old, wears a men’s size 8 shoe. Half a size to go and he’s caught me. Ugh!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Feeling tired? Then exercise.
Stressed from work? Exercise.
Muscles stiff? Exercise.
Feeling bored? Exercise.
Bad night’s sleep? Exercise.
Want to get in shape? Exercise.

Yes, the answer is exercise. Sure there are times when you want to crash on the couch and veg or just go to bed early. I totally get it. I’ve been there myself. If you are tired, though, you should ask yourself if your fatigue is physical or mental or emotional or a combination of the three. If it is physical fatigue, is it because you are in construction and worked on a roof all day or were installing hard wood floors or laying concrete? Or is it physical due to inactivity from siting all day in an uncomfortable chair, practically motionless, dehydrated with your muscles shortening from lack of movement. If it’s the latter, that’s when you should get to the gym, go for a swim or spend time doing yard work. Now let me clarify, if you have sustained a serious injury or are wiped out with pneumonia, then see your doctor, rest and have some of mom’s chicken soup.

Think for a moment when you’re feeling your best. Do you feel your best when you’re working on a project with your boss emailing you every hour? Or is it going for a walk, stretching your muscles, getting blood flowing, feeling warm and enjoying the fresh air? If you haven’t figured it out by now, your body isn’t meant to be in a sitting or standing position for too long. It’s meant to move. And in a variety of ways. Not just sitting there behind the wheel of your car or staring at a screen and assuming what I like to call the T-Rex position. You know? Head forward, neck bent, upper back rounded and fingertips resting on your keyboard or hands close together cradling your phone.

Of course, there’s different kinds of exercise: from walking to running to hiking to cross country skiing to cycling to surfing to paddle boarding to stretching to all types of sports to lifting weights to . . .you get the idea. How do you feel when you’re done exercising? Energized? Ready to take on the world? Totally spent? I have had countless workouts where I have exercised to the point of exhaustion, barely able to walk . . . but feel like I have better mental clarity and that I have cleansed my body and soul of anything negative.

People have talked about Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan ad nauseam. And I’m not the last. To me the slogan is about moving forward, getting your head in the game, overcoming fear, looking at the big picture, achieving your goals. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I believe it’s about doing something. Just exercise. Unless of course you are training for a very specific sport or have specific lifting goals. Otherwise, all you’re really trying to do is strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, reduce body fat, improve your coordination and enhance blood flow. And that can be accomplished by any number of activities and/or workout programs which include light weights or heavy weights, high intensity training or low intensity training, workout machines or stretch cords, free weights or your own body weight, low repetition or high repetition, short duration or long duration. At the end of the day, it all depends what you like to do and will do consistently.

So, as luck would have it, the other day my back was screaming at me. Quick reminder, I’ve been in a couple car accidents and have had some serious sports related injuries. Boo-hoo. Okay, for whatever reason, my back started tightening up on me first thing in the morning. Very uncomfortable. When I was done with my personal training sessions at 7pm, I downed a cup of coffee and headed out the door to the gym. As always I started with some light cardio and calisthenics. My back was talking to me but shouting a bit less. I moved on to some core and resistance exercises. By the time I was done, in under an hour, I was feeling much better. My big concern was how I’d feel the next day. The answer? Well it is the next day and I feel waaaaaay better. Was it a particular exercise that I did? I don’t think so. It was more about moving around and doing something for myself. It’s called exercise. So when you’re feeling a little crappy, don’t grab a cold beverage, don’t marinate on FaceBook and don’t sit on the couch. EXERCISE! Your body will thank you for it.

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