[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Today’s belief counteracts a common trend I see about exercise. I forget if I’ve written about my impressions of seeing five-kilometer walks in Central Park with water stations and ambulances. While I support being prepared, I can’t help but wonder if the suggestion that a five-kilometer walk could be a health risk might stop more people from exercising than these walks promote.
I’m sure there are people for whom walking five kilometers could be a risk, but I imagine they would know it enough not to try. Humans lived before cars and I can’t help but imagine there used to be a time when nearly everyone walked more than five kilometers daily.
Today’s belief comes from the many times when I’ve felt sick, sore, tired, hungry, depressed, or in any way less than enthusiastic and happy and still managed to exercise. Or times it’s been raining, too hot, too cold, too far, too early in the morning, too late in the evening, too anything less than totally convenient.
I don’t remember ever regretting exercising. However hard to motivate before, I’m always glad I did after. However physical the activity, I’ve never permanently injured myself. I’ve never hurt myself more exercising as much as I hurt myself sitting on the couch.
I should note I didn’t always feel this way. Growing up I didn’t exercise much. I was chubby. My parents didn’t promote sports much. I was scared to go to the gym until I started getting good at Ultimate because I though people would make fun of me. My sisters and I watched a lot of television after school growing up.
Find reasons to exercise. Could this be simpler?
A model to help get you in better shape: Exercise never hurts one’s life and it usually helps.
Whenever I’m trying to decide if I should exercise or not, I know I’ll never regret choosing to exercise. I always feel better after I exercise. It’s almost an unqualified good in my life.
By exercise I don’t necessarily mean changing clothes and going somewhere. It could mean walking somewhere instead of taking the subway. Or taking the stairs instead of an elevator.
I don’t even exercise that much. I do burpees twice daily, but I think of that as a part of regular life, not exercise. I don’t belong to a gym. My running shoes are barefoot style, not fancy. I don’t have much workout clothing.
I just find getting my heart pumping improves my mood. And I like how my body feels when not covered with fat. And I like participating in sports with others. Those are the only reasons I exercise. But mostly because it makes me feel good.
Oh, and when I’m in shape I feel more free to eat whatever I want.
Oh, and I think it keeps me from getting sick. Or rather, when I have a cold, allergies, fatigue, or other things that keep me from homeostasis, exercise always helps restore it. And if I have a cold, upset stomach, or something annoying or painful that takes time for my body to overcome, it never hurts while I exercise and I recover faster. I haven’t found lying in bed as effective in overcoming sickness as getting my heart pumping.
When I use this belief
I use this belief when I’m deciding between exercising or not.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces not exercising with exercising. It replaces indecision with surety.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to feeling better, eating better, and living healthier.
EDIT: I just did fifteen push-ups just for the fun of it.
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